Research Article

Transferability of microsatellite primers developed for stingless bees to four other species of the genus Melipona

Published: November 22, 2011
Genet. Mol. Res. 10 (4) : 3942-3947 DOI: 10.4238/2011.November.22.11

Abstract

Microsatellite markers are a useful tool for ecological monitoring of natural and managed populations. A technical limitation is the necessity for investment in the development of primers. Heterologous primers can provide an alternative to searching for new loci. In bees, these markers have been used in populational and intracolonial genetic analyses. The genus Melipona has the largest number of species among bee genera, about 70, occurring throughout the Neotropical region. However, only five species of the genus Melipona have specific microsatellite markers. Given the great diversity of this genus, this number is not representative. We analyzed the transferability of 49 microsatellite loci to four other species of the genus Melipona (M. scutellaris, M. mondury, M. mandacaia, and M. quadrifasciata). Four individuals of each species, from different localities, were used in amplification tests. Primer pairs described for five Melipona species and for Trigona carbonaria were tested. Among the 49 loci, 22 gave amplification products for all four species, while three gave nonspecific bands and five showed no amplification products. The remaining loci varied in the pattern of amplification, according to the species examined. The number of alleles ranged from 1 to 6. The results demonstrate the possibility of using these heterologous markers in other Melipona species, increasing the number of loci that can be analyzed and contributing to further genetic analyses of intra- and intercolonial structure, which is required for conservation measure planning, genetic improvement and resolution of taxonomic problems.

Microsatellite markers are a useful tool for ecological monitoring of natural and managed populations. A technical limitation is the necessity for investment in the development of primers. Heterologous primers can provide an alternative to searching for new loci. In bees, these markers have been used in populational and intracolonial genetic analyses. The genus Melipona has the largest number of species among bee genera, about 70, occurring throughout the Neotropical region. However, only five species of the genus Melipona have specific microsatellite markers. Given the great diversity of this genus, this number is not representative. We analyzed the transferability of 49 microsatellite loci to four other species of the genus Melipona (M. scutellaris, M. mondury, M. mandacaia, and M. quadrifasciata). Four individuals of each species, from different localities, were used in amplification tests. Primer pairs described for five Melipona species and for Trigona carbonaria were tested. Among the 49 loci, 22 gave amplification products for all four species, while three gave nonspecific bands and five showed no amplification products. The remaining loci varied in the pattern of amplification, according to the species examined. The number of alleles ranged from 1 to 6. The results demonstrate the possibility of using these heterologous markers in other Melipona species, increasing the number of loci that can be analyzed and contributing to further genetic analyses of intra- and intercolonial structure, which is required for conservation measure planning, genetic improvement and resolution of taxonomic problems.