Murray State University

Poster Title

Evaluation of Microsatellites in Ambystoma maculatum

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of a trait to change in response to an environmental cue. Salamanders are known to exhibit phenotypic plasticity in the form of facultative paedomorphosis, producing a paedomorphic (aquatic) or a metamorphic (terrestrial) body morphology, which provides a unique vertebrate model for understanding the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Previous research has revealed the mechanisms that produce this polymorphism; however, little is known about the evolutionary mechanisms that maintain it. By studying the fitness consequences of facultative paedomorphosis, we can better understand the evolution of this polymorphism. We have proposed using nuclear markers to assign parentage and to create a pedigree within a closed population of tiger salamanders as a way of measuring fitness differences among morphs. As a first step, we evaluated polymorphism using previously designed Ambystoma microsatellite markers in spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum). Tissue samples of 55 salamanders were collected from a local population and DNA was amplified using PCR to assess microsatellite variability. In this ongoing study, nine loci have been successfully amplified, six of which are polymorphic and will be used to determine relatedness in this population. The results of this study will eventually be applied to a population of facultatively paedomorphic tiger salamanders to better understand the evolution of phenotypic plasticity.

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Evaluation of Microsatellites in Ambystoma maculatum

Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of a trait to change in response to an environmental cue. Salamanders are known to exhibit phenotypic plasticity in the form of facultative paedomorphosis, producing a paedomorphic (aquatic) or a metamorphic (terrestrial) body morphology, which provides a unique vertebrate model for understanding the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. Previous research has revealed the mechanisms that produce this polymorphism; however, little is known about the evolutionary mechanisms that maintain it. By studying the fitness consequences of facultative paedomorphosis, we can better understand the evolution of this polymorphism. We have proposed using nuclear markers to assign parentage and to create a pedigree within a closed population of tiger salamanders as a way of measuring fitness differences among morphs. As a first step, we evaluated polymorphism using previously designed Ambystoma microsatellite markers in spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum). Tissue samples of 55 salamanders were collected from a local population and DNA was amplified using PCR to assess microsatellite variability. In this ongoing study, nine loci have been successfully amplified, six of which are polymorphic and will be used to determine relatedness in this population. The results of this study will eventually be applied to a population of facultatively paedomorphic tiger salamanders to better understand the evolution of phenotypic plasticity.