Zoological Studies

Vol. 54, 2015

Establishment of a microsatellite set for noninvasive paternity testing in free-ranging Macaca mulatta tcheliensis in Mount Taihangshan area, Jiyuan, China

Bai-Shi Wang1, Zhen-Long Wang2, Jun-Dong Tian1,2, Zhen-Wei Cui1, and Ji-Qi Lu1,*

1Institute of Biodiversity and Ecology, Zhengzhou University, Kexue Dadao 100, Zhengzhou 450001, PR China
2Current address: Department of Wildlife Diseases, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Straße 17, Berlin 10315, Germany

Background: Within multi-male and multi-female mammalian societies, paternity assignment is crucial for evaluating male reproductive success, dominance hierarchy, and inbreeding avoidance. It is, however, difficult to determine paternity because of female promiscuity during reproduction. Noninvasive molecular techniques (e.g., fecal DNA) make it possible to match the genetic father to his offspring. In the current study, a troop of free-ranging Taihangshan macaques (Macaca mulatta tcheliensis) in Mt. Taihangshan area, Jiyuan, China, was selected for studying the paternity. We successfully screened a set of microsatellite loci from fecal DNA and evaluated the efficiency of these loci for paternity testing using clearly recorded data of maternity.
Results: The results showed that: 1) ten loci out of 18 candidate microsatellite loci were amplified successfully in the fecal samples of Taihangshan macaques. The error probability in maternity assignments and paternity testing was very low as indicated by their power of discrimination (0.70 to 0.95), power of exclusion (0.43 to 0.84), and the values of polymorphic information content ranging from 0.52 to 0.82; 2) the combined probability of exclusion in paternity testing for ten qualified loci was as high as 99.999%, and the combined probability of exclusion reached 99.99% when the seven most polymorphic loci were adopted; 3) the offspring were assigned to their biological mother correctly and also matched with their genetic father.
Conclusions: We concluded that the ten polymorphic microsatellite loci, especially a core set of seven most polymorphic loci, provided an effective and reliable tool for noninvasive paternity testing in free-ranging rhesus macaques.

Key words: Rhesus macaque; Microsatellite loci; Noninvasive; Fecal DNA; Paternity testing; Maternity.

*Correspondence: E-mail:  lujq@zzu.edu.cn