Highly polymorphic and transferable microsatellites (SSRs) are important for comparative genomics, genome analysis and phylogenetic studies. Development of novel species-specific microsatellite markers remains a costly and labor-intensive project. Therefore, interest has been shifted from genomic to genic markers owing to their high inter-species transferability as they are developed from conserved coding regions of the genome. This study concentrates on comparative analysis of genic microsatellites in nine important legume (Arachis hypogaea, Cajanus cajan, Cicer arietinum, Glycine max, Lotus japonicus, Medicago truncatula, Phaseolus vulgaris, Pisum sativum and Vigna unguiculata) and two model plant species (Oryza sativa and Arabidopsis thaliana). Screening of a total of 228090 putative unique sequences spanning 219610522 bp using a microsatellite search tool, MISA, identified 12.18% of the unigenes containing 36248 microsatellite motifs excluding mononucleotide repeats. Frequency of legume unigene-derived SSRs was one SSR in every 6.0 kb of analyzed sequences. The trinucleotide repeats were predominant in all the unigenes with the exception of C. cajan, which showed prevalence of dinucleotide repeats over trinucleotide repeats. Dinucleotide repeats along with trinucleotides counted for more than 90% of the total microsatellites. Among dinucleotide and trinucleotide repeats, AG and AAG motifs, respectively, were the most frequent. Microsatellite positive chickpea unigenes were assigned Gene Ontology (GO) terms to identify the possible role of unigenes in various molecular and biological functions. These unigene based microsatellite markers will prove valuable for recording allelic variance across germplasm collections, gene tagging and searching for putative candidate genes.
Keywords: Functional annotation; Legumes; Microsatellites; SSRs; Unigenes.