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The easy road to genome-wide medium density SNP screening in a non-model species: development and application of a 10 K SNP-chip for the house sparrow (Passer domesticus)


Correspondence: Ingerid J. Hagen, Fax: +47 73596100; E-mail:, and Henrik Jensen, Fax: +47 73596100 E-mail:


With the advent of next generation sequencing, new avenues have opened to study genomics in wild populations of non-model species. Here, we describe a successful approach to a genome-wide medium density Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) panel in a non-model species, the house sparrow (Passer domesticus), through the development of a 10 K Illumina iSelect HD BeadChip. Genomic DNA and cDNA derived from six individuals were sequenced on a 454 GS FLX system and generated a total of 1.2 million sequences, in which SNPs were detected. As no reference genome exists for the house sparrow, we used the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) reference genome to determine the most likely position of each SNP. The 10 000 SNPs on the SNP-chip were selected to be distributed evenly across 31 chromosomes, giving on average one SNP per 100 000 bp. The SNP-chip was screened across 1968 individual house sparrows from four island populations. Of the original 10 000 SNPs, 7413 were found to be variable, and 99% of these SNPs were successfully called in at least 93% of all individuals. We used the SNP-chip to demonstrate the ability of such genome-wide marker data to detect population sub-division, and compared these results to similar analyses using microsatellites. The SNP-chip will be used to map Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) for fitness-related phenotypic traits in natural populations.