Sunde J, Yıldırım Y, Tibblin P, Forsman A
Front Genet 11 (-) 218 [2020-03-13; online 2020-03-13]
Population genetic studies reveal biodiversity patterns and inform about drivers of evolutionary differentiation and adaptation, including gene flow, drift and selection. This can advance our understanding and aid decision making regarding management and conservation efforts. Microsatellites have long been used in population genetic studies. Thanks to the development of newer techniques, sequencing approaches such as restriction site associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) are on their way to replace microsatellites for some applications. However, the performance of these two marker types in population genetics have rarely been systematically compared. We utilized three neutrally and adaptively differentiated populations of anadromous pike ( Esox lucius) to assess the relative performance of microsatellites and RADseq with respect to resolution and conclusiveness of estimates of population differentiation and genetic structure. To this end, the same set of individuals (N = 64) were genotyped with both RADseq and microsatellite markers. To assess effects of sample size, the same subset of 10 randomly chosen individuals from each population (N = 30 in total) were also genotyped with both methods. Comparisons of estimated genetic diversity and structure showed that both markers were able to uncover genetic structuring. The full RADseq dataset provided the clearest detection of the finer scaled genetic structuring, and the other three datasets (full and subset microsatellite, and subset RADseq) provided comparable results. A search for outlier loci performed on the full SNP dataset pointed to signs of selection potentially associated with salinity and temperature, exemplifying the utility of RADseq to inform about the importance of different environmental factors. To evaluate whether performance differences between the markers are general or context specific, the results of previous studies that have investigated population structure using both marker types were synthesized. The synthesis revealed that RADseq performed as well as, or better than microsatellites in detecting genetic structuring in the included studies. The differences in the ability to detect population structure, both in the present and the previous studies, are likely explained by the higher number of loci typically utilized in RADseq compared to microsatellite analysis, as increasing the number of markers will (regardless of the marker type) increase power and allow for clearer detection and higher resolution of genetic structure.
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