Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2002, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (增刊): 119-126.

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SHENG Yanl, ZHENG Wei-Hong2, PEI Ke-Quanl, MA Ke-Ping1*   

  1. 1 Laboratory of Quantitative Vegetation Ecology, Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China: 2 College of Life Sciences and Technology, Qiqihaer University, Qiqihaer 161006, China
  • Online:2002-09-01 Published:2015-03-09


Abstract Microsatellites are simple tandemly repeated sequence motifs consisting of repeat units of l–6 bp in length. As genetic markers, they are widely dispersed in eukaryotic genomes. The advantages of microsatellites include high polymorphism, high abundance, codominance, selective neutrality and the possibility of automated detection and scoring. This review emphasizes the applications of microsatellites in population biology, especially in plant populations. The variability of microsatellites loci is often so high that, even with a small number of loci and a large number of individuals, most individuals have unique multilocus genotypes. It is therefore possible to address issues such as discrimination, relationships, structure, relatedness and classification or hierarchy, not only at the individual but also at the population level. Individual identification is critical for molecular studies of clonal plants. Although an efficient approach for individual identification, microsatellites have not so far been widely used in the investigation of clonal structure of plant populations. Several studies on the bur oak populations were cited to show the availability of microsatellites on parentage analyses and processes of gene flow within and among populations. The applications of microsatellites at the population level include genetic structure, effective population size and phylogenetic reconstruction. Genetic structure and diversity have been studied on many species, which include grasses, flowers and trees using microsatellites. Large fluctuations in effective population size usually translate into changes in the level of genetic variability and distribution of' allele frequencies. As microsatellite markers can provide nearly infinite loci and can be amplified from even partly degraded DNA, temporal change of genetic structure due to population size can thus be directly accessed. The contribution made by microsatellite makers to infer phylogenetic relationships among populations has been limited. We also discussed the correct use of the different classes or marker.