A two-day Introductory Microsatellite Workshop took place on 8 and 9 April 2014 in the Bioinformatics computer laboratory in FABI 2. The workshop was developed for students in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences with little to no experience in this technology, and introduces the basic concepts relevant to microsatellite development and analyses. Fifteen postgraduate (Honours, MSc and PhD) students attended the workshop which was facilitated by Prof Paulette Bloomer, Dr Irene Barnes, Dr Thierry Hoareau, Ms Kerry Reid, and Ms Renate Zipfel from the Department of Genetics, and Ms Kesenthri Kistiah from ThermoFisher.

During the workshop facilitators explained what microsatellite markers are, why we need them, how to use them, and also compared the application of this marker with other technologies and emerging technologies such as RAD sequencing. Relevant genetic concepts such as the inheritance of microsatellite loci and population genetics were reviewed. The development of microsatellite markers were discussed in detail, how to search for the markers, design and label primers, and how to optimize the PCR reactions. The facilitators also shared tips on what you need to know in the lab, troubleshooting and other relevant information. A general overview was given of how to score and analyse microsatellite data. 

For the first time this year the afternoon of the second day was dedicated to a microsatellite discussion session where the workshop participants could ask questions and discuss their results with the workshop facilitators. This session was very interesting resulted in lively and informative discussions. 

Attendees of the workshop were: Daniela Arriagada-Cares, Jason Bezuidenhout, Ashleigh Geldenhuys, Yves du Toit, Felix Fru, Leonora Haasbroek, Estiene Jordaan, Kishen Mahesh, Pelly Malebe, Masethabela Maphatsoe, Alain Misse, Norman Muzhinji, Simeshini Naidoo, Bonny Oloka, Kennedy Simango, and Bronwynne Strybos.

Now we are looking forward to many good publications from these students based on their microsattelite data!

Authored by Renate Zipfel.