Cross-species transfer of nuclear microsatellite markers: potential and limitations


Christian Lexer, Fax: +44 (0)2083325310; E-mail:


Molecular ecologists increasingly require ‘universal’ genetic markers that can easily be transferred between species. The distribution of cross-species transferability of nuclear microsatellite loci is highly uneven across taxa, being greater in animals and highly variable in flowering plants. The potential for successful cross-species transfer appears highest in species with long generation times, mixed or outcrossing breeding systems, and where genome size in the target species is small compared to the source. We discuss the implications of these findings and close with an outlook on potential alternative sources of cross-species transferable markers.