Identification of microsatellites, or simple sequence repeats (SSRs), can be a time-consuming and costly investment requiring enrichment, cloning, and sequencing of candidate loci. Recently, however, high throughput sequencing (with or without prior enrichment for specific SSR loci) has been utilized to identify SSR loci. The direct "Seq-to-SSR" approach has an advantage over enrichment-based strategies in that it does not require a priori selection of particular motifs, or prior knowledge of genomic SSR content. It has been more expensive per SSR locus recovered, however, particularly for genomes with few SSR loci, such as bird genomes. The longer but relatively more expensive 454 reads have been preferred over less expensive Illumina reads. Here, we use Illumina paired-end sequence data to identify potentially amplifiable SSR loci (PALs) from a snake (the Burmese python, Python molurus bivittatus), and directly compare these results to those from 454 data. We also compare the python results to results from Illumina sequencing of two bird genomes (Gunnison Sage-grouse, Centrocercus minimus, and Clark's Nutcracker, Nucifraga columbiana), which have considerably fewer SSRs than the python. We show that direct Illumina Seq-to-SSR can identify and characterize thousands of potentially amplifiable SSR loci for as little as $10 per sample - a fraction of the cost of 454 sequencing. Given that Illumina Seq-to-SSR is effective, inexpensive, and reliable even for species such as birds that have few SSR loci, it seems that there are now few situations for which prior hybridization is justifiable. ?? 2012 Castoe et al.
Additional publication details
Rapid microsatellite identification from illumina paired-end genomic sequencing in two birds and a snake