A multiplex marker set for microsatellite typing and sexing of sooty terns Onychoprion fuscatus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Sheffield University


Objectives: Seabirds have suffered dramatic population declines in recent decades with one such species being the sooty tern Onychoprion fuscatus. An urgent call to re-assess their conservation status has been made given that some populations, such as the one on Ascension Island, South Atlantic, have declined by over 80% in three generations. Little is known about their population genetics, which would aid conservation management through understanding
ecological processes and vulnerability to environmental change. We developed a multiplex microsatellite marker set for sooty terns including sex-typing markers to assist population genetics studies.
Results: Fifty microsatellite loci were isolated and tested in 23 individuals from Ascension Island. Thirty-one were polymorphic and displayed between 4 and 20 alleles. Three loci were Z-linked and two autosomal loci deviated from
Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. The remaining 26 autosomal loci together with three sex-typing makers were optimised in seven polymerase chain reaction plexes. These 26 highly polymorphic markers will be useful for understanding
genetic structure of the Ascension Island population and the species as a whole. Combining these with recently developed microsatellite markers isolated from Indian Ocean birds will allow for assessment of global population structure and genetic diversity.


Original languageEnglish
Article number756
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2017


  • Ascension island , colonial seabird , conservation , microsatellite loci , PCR , population genetics , relatedness , sex-typing