Heterozygosity-fitness correlations of conserved microsatellite markers in Kentish plovers Charadrius alexandrinus

C Kupper, A Kosztolanyi, J Augustin, D A Dawson, T Burke, Tamas Szekely

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29 Citations (SciVal)


Heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) are frequently used to examine the relationship between genetic diversity and fitness. Most studies have reported positive HFCs, although there is a strong bias towards investigating HFCs in genetically impoverished populations. We investigated HFCs in a large genetically diverse breeding population of Kentish plovers Charadrius alexandrinus in southern Turkey. This small shorebird exhibits highly variable mating and care systems, and it is becoming an ecological model species to understand breeding system evolution. Using 11 conserved and six anonymous microsatellite markers, we tested whether and how heterozygosity was associated with chick survival, tarsus and body mass growth controlling for nongenetic effects (chick sex, hatching date, length of biparental care and site quality) that influence survival and growth. There was no genome-wide effect of heterozygosity on fitness, and we did not find any significant effects of heterozygosity on growth rates. However, two of the 11 conserved markers displayed an association with offspring survival: one marker showed a positive HFC, whereas the other marker showed a negative HFC. Heterozygosity at three further conserved loci showed significant interaction with nongenetic variables. In contrast, heterozygosity based on anonymous microsatellite loci was not associated with fitness or growth. Markers that were correlated with chick survival were not more likely to be located in exons or introns than other markers that lacked this association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5172-5185
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • microsatellite
  • heterozygosity
  • shorebird
  • survival
  • growth


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