Large-scale genetic survey provides insights into the captive management and reintroduction of giant pandas

Molecular Biology and Evolution
Lei ShanFuwen Wei


The captive genetic management of threatened species strives to preserve genetic diversity and avoid inbreeding to ensure populations remain available, healthy, and viable for future reintroduction. Determining and responding to the genetic status of captive populations is therefore paramount to these programs. Here, we genotyped 19 microsatellite loci for 240 captive giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) (∼64% of the captive population) from four breeding centers, Wolong (WL), Chengdu (CD), Louguantai (LGT), and Beijing (BJ), and analyzed 655 bp of mitochondrial DNA control region sequence for 220 of these animals. High levels of genetic diversity and low levels of inbreeding were estimated in the breeding centers, indicating that the captive population is genetically healthy and deliberate further genetic input from wild animals is unnecessary. However, the LGT population faces a higher risk of inbreeding, and significant genetic structure was detected among breeding centers, with LGT-CD and WL-BJ clustering separately. Based on these findings, we highlight that: 1) the LGT population should be managed as an independent captive population to resemble the genetic distinctness of their Qinling Mountain origins; 2) exchange betw...Continue Reading


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