Characterization of microsatellite loci in the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum): their use for cross-species amplification and differentiation between the two species
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As the population sizes of the black and white rhinoceroses continues to decline, more efforts are needed in multiple areas to help with the conservation efforts. One area being explored is the use of genetic diversity information to aid conservation decisions. In this study, we designed 21 microsatellite primers for white and black rhinoceroses, 16 and 17 of which amplified bands in the white and black rhinoceros, respectively. Out of these primers all 16 were polymorphic in the white rhinoceros and 12 of the 17 were polymorphic in the black rhinoceros. The mean number of alleles was 3.31 and 2.12, the expected heterozygosities were 0.420 and 0.372, and the observed heterozygosities were 0.436 and 0.322 for the white and black rhinoceroses, respectively. Seven of the primers produced different allele sizes and variations that distinguished between black and white rhinoceroses. Further genetic analyses with larger wild population sample sizes and markers are recommended to obtain a better understanding of the genetic structure of the black and white rhinoceros populations in order to be useful in the conservation efforts of these critically endangered species.
KeywordsBlack rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) Microsatellites Cross-species amplification Heterozygosity
We thank Dr. Anthony Maddock, Director of Research at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Reserve, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, and Drs. Chip Stem and Mark Pokras of Tufts University’s International Program and Wildlife Clinic, respectively, for their support with sample collection (to AK). This research was made possible by a grant and a scholarship from the Tufts International Veterinary Medicine Program, the Wildlife Clinic, the Department of Environmental and Population Health at Tufts University through the Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Selective Course (AW), and the Endangered Wildlife Trust of South Africa (AK). LN was supported by a summer fellowship from Tufts Institute of the Environment.
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