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Characterization of highly informative cross-species microsatellite panels for the Australian dugong (Dugong dugon) and Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) including five novel primers

June 20, 2011

The Australian dugong (Dugong dugon) and Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) are threatened species of aquatic mammals in the order Sirenia. Sirenian conservation and management actions would benefit from a more complete understanding of genetic diversity and population structure. Generally, species-specific microsatellite markers are employed in conservation genetic studies; however, robust markers can be difficult and costly to isolate. To increase the number of available markers, dugong and manatee microsatellite primers were evaluated for cross-species amplification. Furthermore, one manatee and four dugong novel primers are reported. After polymerase chain reaction optimization, 23 (92%) manatee primers successfully amplified dugong DNA, of which 11 (48%) were polymorphic. Of the 32 dugong primers tested, 27 (84%) yielded product in the manatee, of which 17 (63%) were polymorphic. Dugong and manatee primers were compared and the most informative markers were selected to create robust and informative marker-panels for each species. These crossspecies microsatellite marker-panels can be employed to assess other sirenian populations and can provide beneficial information for the protection and management of these unique mammals.