Interest in the ecological and population genetics of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, has grown rapidly in the last few years in North America and Europe. This interest is a result of a number of converging issues related to the increasing difficulty in managing this pest and the need to characterize and understand gene flow in the context of insect resistance management. One of the key components needed for successful population genetics studies is the availability of suitable molecular markers. Using a standard group of microsatellite markers enables researchers from different laboratories to directly compare and share their data, reducing duplication of effort and facilitating collaborative work among laboratories. We screened 22 candidate microsatellite loci against five criteria to create a core set of microsatellite markers for D. v. virgifera population genetics studies. The criteria for inclusion were moderate to high polymorphism, unambiguous readability and repeatability, no evidence of null alleles, apparent selective neutrality, and no linkage between loci. Based on our results, we recommend six microsatellite markers to be included as a core set in future population genetics studies of D. v. virgifera along with any other microsatellite or genetic markers. As more microsatellites are developed, those meeting the criteria can be added to the core set. We encourage other groups of researchers with common interests in a particular insect species to develop their own core sets of markers for population genetics applications.
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