Discrimination of hybrid classes using cross-species amplification of microsatellite loci: methodological challenges and solutions in Daphnia

Mol Ecol Resour. 2012 Jul;12(4):697-705. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2012.03142.x. Epub 2012 Apr 5.


Microsatellite markers are important tools in population, conservation and forensic studies and are frequently used for species delineation, the detection of hybridization and introgression. Therefore, marker sets that amplify variable DNA regions in two species are required; however, cross-species amplification is often difficult, as genotyping errors such as null alleles may occur. To estimate the level of potential misidentifications based on genotyping errors, we compared the occurrence of parental alleles in laboratory and natural Daphnia hybrids (Daphnia longispina group). We tested a set of 12 microsatellite loci with regard to their suitability for unambiguous species and hybrid class identification using F(1) hybrids bred in the laboratory. Further, a large set of 44 natural populations of D. cucullata, D. galeata and D. longispina (1715 individuals) as well as their interspecific hybrids were genotyped to validate the discriminatory power of different marker combinations. Species delineation using microsatellite multilocus genotypes produced reliable results for all three studied species using assignment tests. Daphnia galeata × cucullata hybrid detection was limited due to three loci exhibiting D. cucullata-specific null alleles, which most likely are caused by differences in primer-binding sites of parental species. Overall, discriminatory power in hybrid detection was improved when a subset of markers was identified that amplifies equally well in both species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Daphnia / classification*
  • Daphnia / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Microsatellite Repeats*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Genetic Markers