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Comparison of SNPs and Microsatellites for Fine-scale Application of Genetic Stock Identification of Chinook Salmon in the Columbia River Basin

Jan 10, 2011


Genetic stock identification (GSI) is an important tool in fisheries management. Microsatellites (µSATs) have been the dominant genetic marker for GSI; however, increasing availability and numerous advantages of single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers make them an appealing alternative. We tested performance of 13 µSAT vs. 92 SNP loci in a fine scale application of GSI, using a new baseline for Chinook salmon consisting of 49 collections (n = 4014) distributed across the Columbia River Basin. In GSI, baseline genotypes for both marker sets were used independently to analyse a real fishery mixture (n = 2731) representing the total run of Chinook Salmon passing Bonneville Dam in the Columbia River. Marker sets were evaluated using three criteria: (i) ability to differentiate reporting groups, (ii) proportion of correct assignment in mixture simulation tests and baseline leave-one-out analyses and (iii) individual assignment and confidence intervals around estimated stock proportions of a real fishery mixture. The µSATs outperformed the SNPs in resolving fine-scale relationships, but all 105 markers combined provided greatest power for GSI. SNPs were ranked by relative information content based on both an iterative procedure that optimized correct assignment to the baseline and ranking by minor allele frequency. For both methods, we identified a subset of the top 50 ranked loci, which were similar in assignment accuracy, and both reached maximum available power of the total 92 SNP loci (correct assignment = 73%). Our estimates indicate that between 100 and 200 highly informative SNP loci are required to meet management standards (correct assignment > 90%) for resolving stocks in finer-scale GSI applications.



Hess, J.E., A.P. Matala, and S.R. Narum. 2011. Comparison of SNPs and microsatellites for fine-scale application of genetic stock identification of Chinook Salmon in the Columbia River Basin. Molecular Ecology Resources 11(s1):137-149. Online at



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Journal Article