Open Access Research article

Genome-wide survey and analysis of microsatellites in nematodes, with a focus on the plant-parasitic species Meloidogyne incognita

Philippe Castagnone-Sereno*, Etienne GJ Danchin, Emeline Deleury, Thomas Guillemaud, Thibaut Malausa and Pierre Abad

Author Affiliations

INRA UMR1301/UNSA/CNRS UMR6243, 400 Route des Chappes, BP167, Sophia Antipolis, France

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:598  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-598

Published: 25 October 2010



Microsatellites are the most popular source of molecular markers for studying population genetic variation in eukaryotes. However, few data are currently available about their genomic distribution and abundance across the phylum Nematoda. The recent completion of the genomes of several nematode species, including Meloidogyne incognita, a major agricultural pest worldwide, now opens the way for a comparative survey and analysis of microsatellites in these organisms.


Using MsatFinder, the total numbers of 1-6 bp perfect microsatellites detected in the complete genomes of five nematode species (Brugia malayi, Caenorhabditis elegans, M. hapla, M. incognita, Pristionchus pacificus) ranged from 2,842 to 61,547, and covered from 0.09 to 1.20% of the nematode genomes. Under our search criteria, the most common repeat motifs for each length class varied according to the different nematode species considered, with no obvious relation to the AT-richness of their genomes. Overall, (AT)n, (AG)n and (CT)n were the three most frequent dinucleotide microsatellite motifs found in the five genomes considered. Except for two motifs in P. pacificus, all the most frequent trinucleotide motifs were AT-rich, with (AAT)n and (ATT)n being the only common to the five nematode species. A particular attention was paid to the microsatellite content of the plant-parasitic species M. incognita. In this species, a repertoire of 4,880 microsatellite loci was identified, from which 2,183 appeared suitable to design markers for population genetic studies. Interestingly, 1,094 microsatellites were identified in 801 predicted protein-coding regions, 99% of them being trinucleotides. When compared against the InterPro domain database, 497 of these CDS were successfully annotated, and further assigned to Gene Ontology terms.


Contrasted patterns of microsatellite abundance and diversity were characterized in five nematode genomes, even in the case of two closely related Meloidogyne species. 2,245 di- to hexanucleotide loci were identified in the genome of M. incognita, providing adequate material for the future development of a wide range of microsatellite markers in this major plant parasite.