• Chinese alligator;
  • AFLP;
  • genetic variation;
  • select;
  • release


The Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis) is a critically endangered species in China. Wild populations of Chinese alligator are on the edge of extinction. Through a release program, some captive-bred alligators will be selected and released into the wild to supplement and renew natural populations. The purpose of this study was to investigate the genetic variation of captive-bred Chinese alligators by AFLP markers and to select individuals with maximally different genetic backgrounds for release. Forty-three captive-bred alligators of the second filial generation from the Anhui Research Center for Chinese Alligator Reproduction (ARCCAR) were surveyed using four primer combinations, yielding 117 AFLP markers. According to AFLP fingerprints, six samples had distinctly different band patterns compared to other samples. When the six samples were removed from the analysis, there were 19 monomorphic loci and 98 polymorphic loci yielding 84% polymorphic loci. Moreover, the genetic similarity (GS) among 37 samples varied from 0.13–0.97, and the average was 0.7503±0.0064 standard error (SE). When the six samples were included, the GS value among the 43 samples declined and varied from 0.06–0.97, and the average was 0.6523±0.0079 SE. Based on a cluster analysis using UPGMA, a dendrogram of the 43 alligators was constructed. According to the cluster analysis and gender of the 43 samples, eight Chinese alligators with very different genetic backgrounds were selected and suggested for release with two groups in the future. Zoo Biol 0:1–12, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.