SNPs in ecology, evolution and conservation

Phillip A. Morin, Gordon Luikart, Robert K. Wayne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

762 Scopus citations


Over the past two decades, new molecular genetic techniques have had substantial impacts on the fields of ecology, evolution and conservation. However, our current toolbox of genetic methodologies remains inadequate for answering many questions and there are significant technological and analytical limitations. We review the possible uses of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as novel genetic markers for common questions in population genetics. Furthermore, we evaluate the potential of SNPs relative to frequently used genetic markers, such as microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences, and we discuss statistical power, analytical approaches, and technological improvements and limitations. Although ascertainment bias is a problem for some applications, SNPs can often generate equivalent statistical power whilst providing broader genome coverage and higher quality data than can either microsatellites or mtDNA, suggesting that SNPs could become an efficient and cost-effective genetic tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-216
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


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