Genetic Variation (DNA Microsatellite)

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Genetic Variation (DNA)


DNA Microsatellite Variation in Two Populations of Captuered Elk in Manitoba


Elk are captured from the wild for ranching to produce valuable antler products and meat. About 95 licenced elk farms are currently active in Manitoba. Duck Mountain (DM) and Riding Mountain (RM) are the two main origins of wild elk captured to supply the ranches with breeding stock. To ssess the genetic variability in Manitoban elk (Cervus elaphus manitobensis) populations by way of determining the differences in microsatellite allele frequencies in the two elk populations, 532 elk captured from these two origins were investigated. Using the Manitoba Agriculture and Food database of 11 microsatellite markers in 379 elk from DM and 153 from RM, allele frequencies and frequency of heterozygotes were studied.

The numbers of alleles detected in all microsatellites, BL42, BM203, BM4107, BM4208, BM5004, BM888, BMC1009, CAL124, CAL2, ETH152 and VH110 were 11, 11, 13, 8, 6, 7, 13, 13, 9, 8 and 12 respectively, and their allele sizes were in the ranges of 246-260, 225-236, 160-175, 135-157, 133-139, 179-190, 275-293, 88-111, 230-242, 160-198 and 124-142 bp respectively. At most microsatellite loci, the range of allele frequencies was generally larger, and the size of DNA fragment (measured in number of bp) higher in both the populations compared to the corresponding loci reported for cattle and sheep. Chi-square statistics showed that the frequencies of alleles were significantly different (P<0.05) between DM and RM elk for all loci. The actual proportion of the elk at DM that were heterozygous at the 11 microsatellite loci ranged from 0.44 at the BM5004 and BM888 loci to 0.66 at the BM203 locus. At RM this proportion ranged from 0.42 at the BM5004 locus to 0.76 at the CAL 124 locus. At most of these loci, therefore, over half of the animals were heterozygous. The expected proportion of heterozygosity was generally higher than the actual level of heterozygosity, possibly due to non-random mating such as inbreeding. The two origins differed significantly (P<0.05) for the actual proportion of heterozygotes only for two markers (CAL124 and ETH152). High genetic variability was evident from the high level of polymorphism and heterozygosity of alleles at all 11 loci and this is useful when these marker loci are used for identification and parentage validation.

Key words: elk, elk ranching, microsatellites, polymorphism, allele frequency, heterozygosity.


Rasali, D.P., Crow, G.H. and Trout, E. 2000. Microsatellite variation in captured elk (Cervus elaphus) in Manitoba. Can. J. Anim. Sci., 80(4): 771.

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