Outlier Loci and Selection Signatures of Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) in Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.).

Soto-Cerda, B.J. and Cloutier, S. (2013). "Outlier Loci and Selection Signatures of Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) in Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.).", Plant Molecular Biology Reporter. doi : 10.1007/s11105-013-0568-1  Access to full text


Genomic microsatellites (gSSRs) and expressed sequence tag-derived SSRs (EST-SSRs) have gained wide application for elucidating genetic diversity and population structure in plants. Both marker systems are assumed to be selectively neutral when making demographic inferences, but this assumption is rarely tested. In this study, three neutrality tests were assessed for identifying outlier loci among 150 SSRs (85 gSSRs and 65 EST-SSRs) that likely influence estimates of population structure in three differentiated flax sub-populations (F ST = 0.19). Moreover, the utility of gSSRs, EST-SSRs, and the combined sets of SSRs was also evaluated in assessing genetic diversity and population structure in flax. Six outlier loci were identified by at least two neutrality tests showing footprints of balancing selection. After removing the outlier loci, the STRUCTURE analysis and the dendrogram topology of EST-SSRs improved. Conversely, gSSRs and combined SSRs results did not change significantly, possibly as a consequence of the higher number of neutral loci assessed. Taken together, the genetic structure analyses established the superiority of gSSRs to determine the genetic relationships among flax accessions, although the combined SSRs produced the best results. Genetic diversity parameters did not differ statistically (P > 0.05) between gSSRs and EST-SSRs, an observation partially explained by the similar number of repeat motifs. Our study provides new insights into the ability of gSSRs and EST-SSRs to measure genetic diversity and structure in flax and confirms the importance of testing for the occurrence of outlier loci to properly assess natural and breeding populations, particularly in studies considering only few loci.

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