Cross-amplification was tested and variability in microsatellite primers (designed for Neotropical parrots) compared, in five macaw species, viz., three endangered blue macaws (Cyanopsitta spixii [extinct in the wild], Anodorhynchus leari [endangered] and Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus [vulnerable]), and two unthreatened red macaws (Ara chloropterus and Ara macao). Among the primers tested, 84.6% successfully amplified products in C. spixii, 83.3% in A. leari, 76.4% in A. hyacinthinus, 78.6% in A. chloropterus and 71.4% in A. macao. The mean expected heterozygosity estimated for each species, and based on loci analyzed in all the five, ranged from 0.33 (A. hyacinthinus) to 0.85 (A. macao). As expected, the results revealed lower levels of genetic variability in threatened macaw species than in unthreatened. The low combined probability of genetic identity and the moderate to high potential for paternity exclusion, indicate the utility of the microsatellite loci set selected for each macaw species in kinship and population studies, thus constituting an aid in planning in-situ and ex-situ conservation.
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