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Paper on assessing genetic diversity in the critically endangered African Mountain Bongo

PhD student Fraser Combe's paper on assessing genetic diversity in the critically endangered African Mountain Bongo is just out: "Rapid isolation and characterization of microsatellites in the critically endangered mountain bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci)". You can download it here or read it online here.


High-throughput sequencing tools promise to revolutionize many aspects of genetic research, e.g. by allowing the identification of functional adaptive genetic variation. However, the expense and expertise required to apply these tools to basic conservation questions is a challenge for applications outside academia, resulting in a so-called ‘conservation genomics gap’ (Shafer et al. 2015). The conservation genetics paradigm is that, basic information about inbreeding and gene flow are often critical to inform conservation management of small populations (Ouborg et al. 2010). This information is often needed quickly and ideally should be accessible to workers without special expertise in genomics (DeSalle and Amato 2004). While the inferential power of high-throughput sequencing to interrogate the genome is profound, the cost for population analysis is higher (though decreasing) than for traditional neutral markers. Thus, the use of neutral markers is still relevant in conservation applications. However, this assumes that neutral markers have been discovered and characterized for a given species of conservation concern, which is often untrue for nonmodel organisms. Here, we use a fast, cost-efficient, high-throughput sequencing method (Illumina MiSeq) to rapidly identify and characterize microsatellites in the mountain bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci), which has a clear and timely conservation imperative but lacks any described neutral markers.

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