Microsatellite Variation in Two Populations of Free-Ranging Yellow Baboons (Papio hamadryas cynocephalus)

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We investigated genetic variation at six microsatellite (simple sequence repeat) loci in yellow baboons (Papio hamadryas cynocephalus) at two localities: the Tana River Primate Reserve in eastern Kenya and Mikumi National Park, central Tanzania. The six loci (D1S158, D2S144, D4S243, D5S1466, D16S508, and D17S804) were all originally cloned from and characterized in the human genome. These microsatellites are polymorphic in both baboon populations, with the average heterozygosity across loci equal to 0.731 in the Tana River sample and 0.787 in the Mikumi sample. The genetic differentiation between the two populations is substantial. Kolmogornov-Smirnov tests indicate that five of the six loci are significantly different in allele frequencies in the two populations. The mean FSTacross loci is 0.069, and Shriver's measure of genetic distance, which was developed for microsatellite loci (Shriver et al., 1995), is 0.255. This genetic distance is larger than corresponding distances among human populations residing in different continents. We conclude that (a) the arrays of alleles present at these six microsatellite loci in two geographically separated populations of yellow baboons are quite similar, but (b) the two populations exhibit significant differences in allele frequencies. This study illustrates the potential value of human microsatellite loci for analyses of population genetic structure in baboons and suggests that this approach will be useful in studies of other Old World monkeys.

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