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Sex-linked Markers Facilitate Genetic Parentage Analyses in Knobbed Whelk Broods


To explore the potential of sex-linked polymorphisms for genetic parentage analyses in natural populations, we have employed a recently discovered "X-linked" microsatellite marker (in conjunction with polymorphic autosomal loci) to deduce biological paternity and maternity for large numbers of encapsulated embryos within individual broods of the knobbed whelk (Busycon carica). Empirical findings illustrate how such sex-linked genetic tags can in special instances find at least three novel utilities in genetic dissections of large-clutch species: clarification of paternity assignments that had remained ambiguous from di-locus autosomal data alone; elucidation of linkage relationships among pairs of autosomal loci; and illumination of maternity (and thereby paternity also) in broods for which neither biological parent was known from independent evidence.

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