U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in J Mol Evol (1998) 46: 256–260


Previous studies suggest the median allele length of microsatellites is longest in the species from which the markers were derived, suggesting that an ascertainment bias was operating. We have examined whether the size distribution of microsatellite alleles between sheep and cattle is source dependent using a set of 472 microsatellites that can be amplified in both species. For those markers that were polymorphic in both species we report a significantly greater number of markers (P < 0.001) with longer median allele sizes in sheep, regardless of microsatellite origin. This finding suggests that any ascertainment bias operating during microsatellite selection is only a minor contributor to the variation observed.