Aldo Vazquez

Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)

Committee Chair

Kidd, Michael R.


Texas is home to 53 species of freshwater mussels. Unfortunately, factors associated with an increase in urbanization, such as decreasing water levels in lakes and rivers, have greatly affected the populations of many species. Currently, 15 species are classified as threatened by the state. Of these species, 11 have been petitioned to be enlisted under The Endangered Species Act (ESA), and one is currently a candidate for future protection. In this project, we have used next generation sequencing technology to develop a suite of species-specific genetic markers, known as microsatellites, to assess the genetic diversity of the populations of Popenaias popeii, the candidate for future listing under the ESA. Microsatellites are regions of DNA distributed across a species genome that are comprised of 1-6 nucleotides repeated in tandem. To date, we have tested the utility of 20 microsatellite markers and have optimized the PCR conditions for 4 of these. These markers will provide genetic data on population structure, gene flow, and existing levels of genetic diversity for this critically threatened species endemic to Southwest Texas and the lower portion of Pecos River in New Mexico.