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Keywords:

  • Elapidae;
  • high-throughput marker identification;
  • Seq-to-SSR approach;
  • simple sequence repeats;
  • snake genomics

Abstract

Studies of population genetics increasingly use next-generation DNA sequencing to identify microsatellite loci in nonmodel organisms. There are, however, relatively few studies that validate the feasibility of transitioning from marker development to experimental application across populations and species. North American coralsnakes of the Micrurus fulvius species complex occur in the United States and Mexico, and little is known about their population structure and phylogenetic relationships. This absence of information and population genetics markers is particularly concerning because they are highly venomous and have important implications on human health. To alleviate this problem in coralsnakes, we investigated the feasibility of using 454 shotgun sequences for microsatellite marker development. First, a genomic shotgun library from a single individual was sequenced (approximately 7.74 megabases; 26 831 reads) to identify potentially amplifiable microsatellite loci (PALs). We then hierarchically sampled 76 individuals from throughout the geographic distribution of the species complex and examined whether PALs were amplifiable and polymorphic. Approximately half of the loci tested were readily amplifiable from all individuals, and 80% of the loci tested for variation were variable and thus informative as population genetic markers. To evaluate the repetitive landscape characteristics across multiple snakes, we also compared microsatellite content between the coralsnake and two other previously sampled snakes, the venomous copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and Burmese python (Python molurus).