Microsatellite (SSR) is one of the most popular markers for applied genetic research, but generally the current methods to develop SSRs are relatively time-consuming and expensive. Although high-throughput sequencing (HTS) approach has become a practical and relatively inexpensive option so far, only a small percentage of SSR markers turn out to be polymorphic. Here, we designed a new method to enrich polymorphic SSRs through the comparative transcriptome analysis. This program contains five main steps: 1) transcriptome data downloading or RNA-seq; 2) sequence assembly; 3) SSR mining and enrichment of sequences containing SSRs; 4) sequence alignment; 5) enrichment of sequences containing polymorphic SSRs. A validation experiment was performed and the results showed almost all markers (> 90%) that were indicated as putatively polymorphic by this method were indeed polymorphic. The frequency of polymorphic SSRs was significantly higher (P < 0.05) but the cost and running time were much lower than those of traditional and HTS approaches. The method has a practical value for polymorphic SSRs development and might be widely used for genetic analyses in any species.
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