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The use of molecular data for the management of the Baiji and Finless porpoise populations ‘River dolphins genotyping’

Research project BL/C/27 (Research action BL)

Contract BL/11/C27 :

Duration of the contract :


Partners :

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences 
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles 

Description :

Context and objectives

This project consisted in initiating a collaboration project with the Department of river dolphin research, at the Chinese academy of science, to investigate the Baiji and finless porpoise populations in the Yangtze River, in order to determine the best management conditions for these endangered species. The project was divided in two main parts:
(1) validation of statistical methods used in population/conservation genetics, using data sets from experimental laboratory populations of a model organism, Caenorhabditis remanei (WP 1) and
(2) isolation of microsatellites for the two species, and genotyping samples from both populations in order to infer their genetic structure for management purposes (WP 2)


• DNA microsatellite loci were isolated for C; remanii and experimental laboratory populations of this model organism were set up. We implemented (i) constant size populations which experienced one bottleneck event (drastic temporary size reduction) as well as (ii) three populations of constant size exchanging different proportions of migrants at each generation. We then genotyped the worms at the end of the experiment and used the microsatellite data to detect bottlenecks with the program “Bottleneck”. The principle of the method is that, in bottlenecked population, rare alleles have a higher probability of being lost than more frequent alleles. We analyzed the microsatellite data in order to test the robustness of the method to violation of its assumptions. We also attempted to detect migration using the programs “Migrate”, “IM”, and “BayesAss+”.
• 40 microsatellite loci were isolated for Neophocaena phocaenoides and 50 microsatellite loci for and Lipotes vexillifer.

Documentation :

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