Using the dog genome to find single nucleotide polymorphisms in red foxes and other distantly related members of the Canidae

Benjamin Sacks, Susan Louie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) are the ideal marker for characterizing genomic variation but can be difficult to find in nonmodel species. We explored the usefulness of the dog genome for finding SNPs in distantly related nonmodel canids and evaluated so-ascertained SNPs. Using 40 primer pairs designed from randomly selected bacterial artificial chromosome clones from the dog genome, we successfully sequenced 80-88% of loci in a coyote (Canis latrans), grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and red fox (Vulpes vulpes), which compared favourably to a 60% success rate for each species using 10 primer pairs conserved across mammals. Loci were minimally heterogeneous with respect to SNP density, which was similar, overall, in a discovery panel of nine red foxes to that previously reported for a panel of eight wolves (Canis lupus). Additionally, individual heterozygosity was similar across the three canids in this study. However, the proportion of SNP sites shared with the dog decreased with phylogenetic divergence, with no SNPs shared between red foxes and dogs. Density of interspecific SNPs increased approximately linearly with divergence time between species. Using red foxes from three populations, we estimated FST based on each of 42 SNPs and 14 microsatellites and simulated null distributions conditioned on each marker type. Relative to SNPs, microsatellites systematically underestimated FST and produced biased null distributions, indicating that SNPs are superior markers for these functions. By reconstituting the frequency spectrum of SNPs discovered in nine red foxes, we discovered an estimated 77-89% of all SNPs (within the region screened) present in North American red foxes. In sum, these findings indicate that information from the dog genome enables easy ascertainment of random and gene-linked SNPs throughout the Canidae and illustrate the value of SNPs in ecological and evolutionary genetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Ecology Resources
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Canis latrans
  • Coyote
  • Grey fox
  • Red fox
  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms
  • SNPs
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus
  • Vulpes vulpes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology


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