, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 629-633
Date: 20 Mar 2012

A panel of microsatellite markers for genetic studies of European polecats (Mustela putorius) and ferrets (Mustela furo)

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We report a panel of 12 microsatellite markers, including nine novel polymorphic loci isolated in the European polecat and three loci previously developed in closely related species, for genetic studies of polecats and ferrets. We tested the panel at fine geographic scales in polecat and domestic ferret populations of Britain and Portugal and at a broad geographic scale, using 50 polecat samples from across Western Europe. At the fine geographic scales, we recorded one to five alleles per locus and observed and expected heterozygosities ranging from 0 to 0.80 and from 0 to 0.74, respectively. These values increased markedly in the European sample of polecats. No linkage disequilibrium was detected between any pair of loci and all genotypic frequencies complied with Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium expectations. The microsatellite panel allowed the molecular discrimination of polecats and domestic ferrets in Britain, where hybridisation between the two species has been documented. Thus, these loci may be useful not only in genetic studies of polecats and ferrets but also in studies to assess hybridisation between these two mustelid species.

Communicated by C. Gortázar