Single-nucleotide polymorphism characterization in species with limited available sequence information: high nucleotide diversity revealed in the avian genome


C. Primmer. Fax: +358-9191-57694; E-mail:


As a case study for single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) identification in species for which little or no sequence information is available, we investigated several approaches to identifying SNPs in two passerine bird species: pied and collared flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca and F. albicollis). All approaches were successful in identifying sequence polymorphism and over 50 candidate SNPs per species were identified from ≈ 9.1 kb of sequence. In addition, 17 sites were identified in which the frequency of alternative bases differed by > 50% between species (termed interspecific SNPs). Interestingly, polymorphism of microsatellite/intron loci in the source species appeared to be a positive predictor of nucleotide diversity in homologous flycatcher sequences. The overall nucleotide diversity of flycatchers was 2.3–2.7 × 10−3, which is ≈ 3–6 times higher than observed in recent studies of human SNPs. Higher nucleotide diversity in the avian genome could be due to the relatively older age of flycatcher populations, compared with humans, and/or a higher long-term effective population size.