Open Access Research

Panel of polymorphic heterologous microsatellite loci to genotype critically endangered Bengal tiger: a pilot study

Sudhanshu Mishra12, Sujeet Kumar Singh1, Ashok Kumar Munjal23, Jouni Aspi4 and Surendra Prakash Goyal1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Wildlife Institute of India, PO Box #18, Chandrabani, Dehradun 248001, Uttarakhand, India

2 Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Banasthali University, Banasthali 304022, Rajasthan, India

3 Department of Zoology, Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak 484886, MP, India

4 Department of Biology, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland

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SpringerPlus 2014, 3:4  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-4

Published: 3 January 2014


In India, six landscapes and source populations that are important for long-term conservation of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) have been identified. Except for a few studies, nothing is known regarding the genetic structure and extent of gene flow among most of the tiger populations across India as the majority of them are small, fragmented and isolated. Thus, individual-based relationships are required to understand the species ecology and biology for planning effective conservation and genetics-based individual identification has been widely used. But this needs screening and describing characteristics of microsatellite loci from DNA from good-quality sources so that the required number of loci can be selected and the genotyping error rate minimized. In the studies so far conducted on the Bengal tiger, a very small number of loci (n = 35) have been tested with high-quality source of DNA, and information on locus-specific characteristics is lacking. The use of such characteristics has been strongly recommended in the literature to minimize the error rate and by the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) for forensic purposes. Therefore, we describe for the first time locus-specific genetic and genotyping profile characteristics, crucial for population genetic studies, using high-quality source of DNA of the Bengal tiger. We screened 39 heterologous microsatellite loci (Sumatran tiger, domestic cat, Asiatic lion and snow leopard) in captive individuals (n = 8), of which 21 loci are being reported for the first time in the Bengal tiger, providing an additional choice for selection. The mean relatedness coefficient (R = −0.143) indicates that the selected tigers were unrelated. Thirty-four loci were polymorphic, with the number of alleles ranging from 2 to 7 per locus, and the remaining five loci were monomorphic. Based on the PIC values (> 0.500), and other characteristics, we suggest that 16 loci (3 to 7 alleles) be used for genetic and forensic study purposes. The probabilities of matching genotypes of unrelated individuals (3.692 × 10-19) and siblings (4.003 × 10-6) are within the values needed for undertaking studies in population genetics, relatedness, sociobiology and forensics.

Bengal tiger; Panthera tigris tigris; Heterologous microsatellite loci; Genotyping panel