Genetic diversity analysis using lowly polymorphic dominant markers: the example of AFLP in pigs

J Hered. 2006 May-Jun;97(3):244-52. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esj038. Epub 2006 Jun 1.


DNA markers are commonly used for large-scale evaluation of genetic diversity in farm animals, as a component of the management of animal genetic resources. AFLP markers are useful for such studies as they can be generated relatively simply; however, challenges in analysis arise from their dominant scoring and the low level of polymorphism of some markers. This paper describes the results obtained with a set of AFLP markers in a study of 59 pig breeds. AFLP fingerprints were generated using four primer combinations (PC), yielding a total of 148 marker loci, and average harmonic mean of breed sample size was 37.3. The average proportion of monomorphic populations was 63% (range across loci: 3%-98%). The moment-based method of Hill and Weir (2004, Mol Ecol 13:895-908) was applied to estimate gene frequencies, gene diversity (F(ST)), and Reynolds genetic distances. A highly significant average F(ST) of 0.11 was estimated, together with highly significant PC effects on gene diversity. The variance of F(ST) across loci also significantly exceeded the variance expected under the hypothesis of AFLP neutrality, strongly suggesting the sensitivity of AFLP to selection or other forces. Moment estimates were compared to estimates derived from the square root estimation of gene frequency, as currently applied for dominant markers, and the biases incurred in the latter method were evaluated. The paper discusses the hypotheses underlying the moment estimations and various issues relating to the biallelic, dominant, and lowly polymorphic nature of this set of AFLP markers and to their use as compared to microsatellites for measuring genetic diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Swine / genetics*


  • Genetic Markers