Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle, Pelodiscus sinensis, a Chinese fresh-water turtle, is widely distributed in Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. P. sinensis is favored for its supposed medical value and has been consumed as food for a long period of time in China. However, during the past two decades, habitat destruction, overfishing, general pollution and fragmentation of large rivers by dams have led to dramatical decline of the wild populations of this species. Consequently, the Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle was listed as a vulnerable species in the China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals in 1998.
Knowledge on the genetic structure of P. sinensis populations is essential for effective protection measures of germplasm resources and sustainable management programs. However, little is known about the genetic diversity and genetic structure of once abundant wild populations of this species.
A partial genomic library enriched containing (GT) n microsatellite was developed and 44 pairs of primers were created using the fast isolation by AFLP of sequences containing repeats (FIASCO) protocol for P. sinensis. Of all primers, twenty primers produced unambiguous polymorphic PCR products. The polymorphism of all twenty loci ranged from two to seven alleles with observed heterozygosities ranging from 0.03 to 0.98 (mean 0.38) in 40 individuals of one population. No significant linkage disequilibrium was detected among the loci. These novel microsatellite loci showed moderate to high levels of polymorphism in P. sinensis.
It is the first time to report these 20 polymorphic microsatellite loci for P. sinensis. These loci will be helpful for understanding population structure at genetic level and markers assisted breeding of this vulnerable species.