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1.  Genetic structure of wild boar (Sus scrofa) populations from East Asia based on microsatellite loci analyses 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:85.
Wild boar, Sus scrofa, is an extant wild ancestor of the domestic pig as an agro-economically important mammal. Wild boar has a worldwide distribution with its geographic origin in Southeast Asia, but genetic diversity and genetic structure of wild boar in East Asia are poorly understood. To characterize the pattern and amount of genetic variation and population structure of wild boar in East Asia, we genotyped and analyzed microsatellite loci for a total of 238 wild boar specimens from ten locations across six countries in East and Southeast Asia.
Our data indicated that wild boar populations in East Asia are genetically diverse and structured, showing a significant correlation of genetic distance with geographic distance and implying a low level of gene flow at a regional scale. Bayesian-based clustering analysis was indicative of seven inferred genetic clusters in which wild boars in East Asia are geographically structured. The level of genetic diversity was relatively high in wild boars from Southeast Asia, compared with those from Northeast Asia. This gradient pattern of genetic diversity is consistent with an assumed ancestral population of wild boar in Southeast Asia. Genetic evidences from a relationship tree and structure analysis suggest that wild boar in Jeju Island, South Korea have a distinct genetic background from those in mainland Korea.
Our results reveal a diverse pattern of genetic diversity and the existence of genetic differentiation among wild boar populations inhabiting East Asia. This study highlights the potential contribution of genetic variation of wild boar to the high genetic diversity of local domestic pigs during domestication in East Asia.
PMCID: PMC4112609  PMID: 25034725
Microsatellites; East Asia; Genetic diversity; Genetic structure; Wild boar
2.  Spatial distribution and risk factors of Brucellosis in Iberian wild ungulates 
The role of wildlife as a brucellosis reservoir for humans and domestic livestock remains to be properly established. The aim of this work was to determine the aetiology, apparent prevalence, spatial distribution and risk factors for brucellosis transmission in several Iberian wild ungulates.
A multi-species indirect immunosorbent assay (iELISA) using Brucella S-LPS antigen was developed. In several regions having brucellosis in livestock, individual serum samples were taken between 1999 and 2009 from 2,579 wild bovids, 6,448 wild cervids and4,454 Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), and tested to assess brucellosis apparent prevalence. Strains isolated from wild boar were characterized to identify the presence of markers shared with the strains isolated from domestic pigs.
Mean apparent prevalence below 0.5% was identified in chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica), Iberian wild goat (Capra pyrenaica), and red deer (Cervus elaphus). Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), fallow deer (Dama dama), mouflon (Ovis aries) and Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) tested were seronegative. Only one red deer and one Iberian wild goat resulted positive in culture, isolating B. abortus biovar 1 and B. melitensis biovar 1, respectively. Apparent prevalence in wild boar ranged from 25% to 46% in the different regions studied, with the highest figures detected in South-Central Spain. The probability of wild boar being positive in the iELISA was also affected by age, age-by-sex interaction, sampling month, and the density of outdoor domestic pigs. A total of 104 bacterial isolates were obtained from wild boar, being all identified as B. suis biovar 2. DNA polymorphisms were similar to those found in domestic pigs.
In conclusion, brucellosis in wild boar is widespread in the Iberian Peninsula, thus representing an important threat for domestic pigs. By contrast, wild ruminants were not identified as a significant brucellosis reservoir for livestock.
PMCID: PMC2841660  PMID: 20205703
3.  Phenotype and animal domestication: A study of dental variation between domestic, wild, captive, hybrid and insular Sus scrofa 
BMC Evolutionary Biology  2015;15(1):6.
Identifying the phenotypic responses to domestication remains a long-standing and important question for researchers studying its early history. The great diversity in domestic animals and plants that exists today bears testament to the profound changes that domestication has induced in their ancestral wild forms over the last millennia. Domestication is a complex evolutionary process in which wild organisms are moved to new anthropogenic environments. Although modern genetics are significantly improving our understanding of domestication and breed formation, little is still known about the associated morphological changes linked to the process itself. In order to explore phenotypic variation induced by different levels of human control, we analysed the diversity of dental size, shape and allometry in modern free-living and captive wild, wild x domestic hybrid, domestic and insular Sus scrofa populations.
We show that domestication has created completely new dental phenotypes not found in wild boar (although the amount of variation amongst domestic pigs does not exceed that found in the wild). Wild boar tooth shape also appears to be biogeographically structured, likely the result of post-glacial recolonisation history. Furthermore, distinct dental phenotypes were also observed among domestic breeds, probably the result of differing types and intensity of past and present husbandry practices. Captivity also appears to impact tooth shape. Wild x domestic hybrids possess second molars that are strictly intermediate in shape between wild boar and domestic pigs (third molars, however, showing greater shape similarity with wild boar) while their size is more similar to domestic pigs. The dental phenotypes of insular Sus scrofa populations found on Corsica and Sardinia today (originally introduced by Neolithic settlers to the islands) can be explained either by feralization of the original introduced domestic swine or that the founding population maintained a wild boar phenotype through time.
Domestication has driven significant phenotypic diversification in Sus scrofa. Captivity (environmental control), hybridization (genome admixture), and introduction to islands all correspond to differing levels of human control and may be considered different stages of the domestication process. The relatively well-known genetic evolutionary history of pigs shows a similar complexity at the phenotypic level.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-014-0269-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4328033  PMID: 25648385
Teeth; Molars; Geometric morphometrics; Biogeography; Artificial selection; Natural selection
4.  Contemporary Genetic Structure, Phylogeography and Past Demographic Processes of Wild Boar Sus scrofa Population in Central and Eastern Europe 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91401.
The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is one of the most widely distributed mammals in Europe. Its demography was affected by various events in the past and today populations are increasing throughout Europe. We examined genetic diversity, structure and population dynamics of wild boar in Central and Eastern Europe. MtDNA control region (664 bp) was sequenced in 254 wild boar from six countries (Poland, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the European part of Russia). We detected 16 haplotypes, all known from previous studies in Europe; 14 of them belonged to European 1 (E1) clade, including 13 haplotypes from E1-C and one from E1-A lineages. Two haplotypes belonged respectively to the East Asian and the Near Eastern clade. Both haplotypes were found in Russia and most probably originated from the documented translocations of wild boar. The studied populations showed moderate haplotype (0.714±0.023) and low nucleotide diversity (0.003±0.002). SAMOVA grouped the genetic structuring of Central and Eastern European wild boar into three subpopulations, comprising of: (1) north-eastern Belarus and the European part of Russia, (2) Poland, Ukraine, Moldova and most of Belarus, and (3) Hungary. The multimodal mismatch distribution, Fu's Fs index, Bayesian skyline plot and the high occurrence of shared haplotypes among populations did not suggest strong demographic fluctuations in wild boar numbers in the Holocene and pre-Holocene times. This study showed relatively weak genetic diversity and structure in Central and Eastern European wild boar populations and underlined gaps in our knowledge on the role of southern refugia and demographic processes shaping genetic diversity of wild boar in this part of Europe.
PMCID: PMC3951376  PMID: 24622149
5.  Effects of human perturbation on the genetic make-up of an island population: the case of the Sardinian wild boar 
Heredity  2010;106(6):1012-1020.
Game species are often manipulated by human beings, whose activities can deeply affect their genetic make-up and population structure. We focused on a geographically isolated wild boar population (Sardinia, Italy), which is classified, together with the Corsican population, as a separate subspecies (Sus scrofa meridionalis). Two hundred and ten wild boars collected across Sardinia were analysed with a set of 10 microsatellites and compared with 296 reference genotypes from continental wild populations and to a sample of domestic pigs. The Sardinian population showed remarkable diversity and a high proportion of private alleles, and strongly deviated from the equilibrium. A Bayesian cluster analysis of only the Sardinian sample revealed a partition into five subpopulations. However, two different Bayesian approaches to the assignment of individuals, accounting for different possible source populations, produced consistent results and proved the admixed nature of the Sardinian population. Indeed, introgressive hybridization with boars from multiple sources (Italian peninsula, central Europe, domestic stocks) was detected, although poor evidence of crossbreeding with free-ranging domestic pigs was unexpectedly found. After excluding individuals who carried exotic genes, the population re-entered Hardy–Weinberg proportions and a clear population structure with three subpopulations emerged. Therefore, the inclusion of introgressed animals in the Bayesian analysis implied an overestimation of the number of clusters. Nonetheless, two of them were consistent between analyses and corresponded to highly pure stocks, located, respectively, in north-west and south-west Sardinia. This work shows the critical importance of including adequate reference samples when studying the genetic structure of managed wild populations.
PMCID: PMC3186246  PMID: 21179064
Sus scrofa; domestic pig; microsatellites; admixture analysis; genetic structure; introgressive hybridization
6.  Identification of a second gene associated with variation in vertebral number in domestic pigs 
BMC Genetics  2011;12:5.
The number of vertebrae in pigs varies and is associated with body size. Wild boars have 19 vertebrae, but European commercial breeds for pork production have 20 to 23 vertebrae. We previously identified two quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for number of vertebrae on Sus scrofa chromosomes (SSC) 1 and 7, and reported that an orphan nuclear receptor, NR6A1, was located at the QTL on SSC1. At the NR6A1 locus, wild boars and Asian local breed pigs had the wild-type allele and European commercial-breed pigs had an allele associated with increased numbers of vertebrae (number-increase allele).
Here, we performed a map-based study to define the other QTL, on SSC7, for which we detected genetic diversity in European commercial breeds. Haplotype analysis with microsatellite markers revealed a 41-kb conserved region within all the number-increase alleles in the present study. We also developed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 450-kb region around the QTL and used them for a linkage disequilibrium analysis and an association study in 199 independent animals. Three haplotype blocks were detected, and SNPs in the 41-kb region presented the highest associations with the number of vertebrae. This region encodes an uncharacterized hypothetical protein that is not a member of any other known gene family. Orthologs appear to exist not only in mammals but also birds and fish. This gene, which we have named vertnin (VRTN) is a candidate for the gene associated with variation in vertebral number. In pigs, the number-increase allele was expressed more abundantly than the wild-type allele in embryos. Among candidate polymorphisms, there is an insertion of a SINE element (PRE1) into the intron of the Q allele as well as the SNPs in the promoter region.
Genetic diversity of VRTN is the suspected cause of the heterogeneity of the number of vertebrae in commercial-breed pigs, so the polymorphism information should be directly useful for assessing the genetic ability of individual animals. The number-increase allele of swine VRTN was suggested to add an additional thoracic segment to the animal. Functional analysis of VRTN may provide novel findings in the areas of developmental biology.
PMCID: PMC3024977  PMID: 21232157
7.  Effectiveness of 10 polymorphic microsatellite markers for parentage and pedigree analysis in plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) 
BMC Genetics  2010;11:101.
The plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) is an underground-dwelling mammal, native to the Tibetan plateau of China. A set of 10 polymorphic microsatellite loci has been developed earlier. Its reliability for parentage assignment has been tested in a plateau pika population. Two family groups with a known pedigree were used to validate the power of this set of markers.
The error in parentage assignment using a combination of these 10 loci was very low as indicated by their power of discrimination (0.803 - 0.932), power of exclusion (0.351 - 0.887), and an effectiveness of the combined probability of exclusion in parentage assignment of 99.999%.
All the offspring of a family could be assigned to their biological mother; and their father or relatives could also be identified. This set of markers therefore provides a powerful and efficient tool for parentage assignment and other population analyses in the plateau pika.
PMCID: PMC2994782  PMID: 21062500
8.  Reintroductions and genetic introgression from domestic pigs have shaped the genetic population structure of Northwest European wild boar 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:43.
Population genetic studies focus on natural dispersal and isolation by landscape barriers as the main drivers of genetic population structure. However, anthropogenic factors such as reintroductions, translocations and wild x domestic hybridization may also have strong effects on genetic population structure. In this study we genotyped 351 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism markers evenly spread across the genome in 645 wild boar (Sus scrofa) from Northwest Europe to evaluate determinants of genetic population structure.
We show that wild boar genetic population structure is influenced by historical reintroductions and by genetic introgression from domestic pigs. Six genetically distinct and geographically coherent wild boar clusters were identified in the Netherlands and Western Germany. The Dutch Veluwe cluster is known to be reintroduced, and three adjacent Dutch and German clusters are suspected to be a result of reintroduction, based on clustering results, low levels of heterozygosity and relatively high genetic distances to nearby populations. Recent wild x domestic hybrids were found geographically widespread across clusters and at low frequencies (average 3.9%). The relationship between pairwise kinship coefficients and geographic distance showed male-biased dispersal at the population genetic level.
Our results demonstrate that wildlife and landscape management by humans are shaping the genetic diversity of an iconic wildlife species. Historical reintroductions, translocation and recent restocking activities with farmed wild boar have all influenced wild boar genetic population structure. The current trend of wild boar population growth and range expansion has recently led to a number of contact zones between clusters, and further admixture between the different wild boar clusters is to be expected.
PMCID: PMC3663677  PMID: 23688182
9.  Wild boar tuberculosis in Iberian Atlantic Spain: a different picture from Mediterranean habitats 
Infections with Mycobacterium bovis and closely related members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) are shared between livestock, wildlife and sporadically human beings. Wildlife reservoirs exist worldwide and can interfere with bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication efforts. The Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a MTC maintenance host in Mediterranean Iberia (Spain and Portugal). However, few systematic studies in wild boar have been carried out in Atlantic regions. We describe the prevalence, distribution, pathology and epidemiology of MTC and other mycobacteria from wild boar in Atlantic Spain. A total of 2,067 wild boar were sampled between 2008 and 2012.
The results provide insight into the current status of wild boar as MTC and Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) hosts in temperate regions of continental Europe. The main findings were a low TB prevalence (2.6%), a low proportion of MTC infected wild boar displaying generalized TB lesions (16.7%), and a higher proportion of MAC infections (4.5%). Molecular typing revealed epidemiological links between wild boar and domestic – cattle, sheep and goat – and other wildlife – Eurasian badger (Meles meles) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) – hosts.
This study shows that the likelihood of MTC excretion by wild boar in Atlantic habitats is much lower than in Mediterranean areas. However, wild boar provide a good indicator of MTC circulation and, given the current re-emergence of animal TB, similar large-scale surveys would be advisable in other Atlantic regions of continental Europe.
PMCID: PMC3844463  PMID: 24010539
Wild boar; Tuberculosis; Mycobacterial infections; Atlantic Spain; Cattle
10.  A High Throughput Genotyping Approach Reveals Distinctive Autosomal Genetic Signatures for European and Near Eastern Wild Boar 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55891.
The lack of a Near Eastern genetic signature in modern European porcine breeds indicates that, although domestic pigs from the Fertile Crescent entered Europe during the Neolithic, they were completely replaced by their European counterparts in a short window of time. Whilst the absence of such genetic signature has been convincingly demonstrated at the mitochondrial level, variation at the autosomal genomes of European and Near Eastern Sus scrofa has not been compared yet. Herewith, we have explored the genetic relationships among 43 wild boar from Europe (N = 21), Near East (N = 19) and Korea (N = 3), and 40 Iberian (N = 16), Canarian (N = 4) and Mangalitza (N = 20) pigs by using a high throughput SNP genotyping platform. After data filtering, 37,167 autosomal SNPs were used to perform population genetics analyses. A multidimensional scaling plot based on genome-wide identity-by-state pairwise distances inferred with PLINK showed that Near Eastern and European wild boar populations are genetically differentiated. Maximum likelihood trees built with TreeMix supported this conclusion i.e. an early population split between Near Eastern and European Sus scrofa was observed. Moreover, analysis of the data with Structure evidenced that the sampled Iberian, Canarian and Mangalitza pigs did not carry any autosomal signature compatible with a Near Eastern ancestry, a finding that agrees well with previous mitochondrial studies.
PMCID: PMC3584081  PMID: 23460788
11.  Wild boar: an increasing concern for Aujeszky's disease control in pigs? 
The goal of this study was describing the temporal evolution of Aujeszky's disease virus (ADV) contact prevalence among Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) populations under different management regimes and contact likelihoods with domestic pigs. Given the recent increase in wild boar abundance throughout Europe, we hypothesized that wild boar contact with ADV would remain stable in time even after significant reduction of ADV prevalence in domestic pigs.
Sera from 1659 wild boar were collected from 2000 to 2010 within 6 areas of the Iberian Peninsula and tested for the presence of antibodies against ADV by ELISA. According to sampling date, wild boar were grouped into three time periods. ADV prevalence was compared through period both globally and by geographic area. Overall seroprevalence for the ten-year study period was 49.6 ± 2.4%. The highest seroprevalence was recorded in areas with intense wild boar management. The annual proportion of positive wild boar sampling sites remained stable through the study period, while the percentage of domestic pig AD positive counties decreased from 70% in 2003 to 1.7% in 2010.
Results presented herein confirmed our hypothesis that ADV would remain almost stable in wild boar populations. This evidences the increasing risk wild boar pose in the final stages of ADV eradication in pigs and for wildlife conservation.
PMCID: PMC3274458  PMID: 22251441
Disease control; Monitoring; Pseudorabies; Seroprevalence; Sus scrofa; Wildlife
12.  Genetic characterization and phylogeography of the wild boar Sus scrofa introduced into Uruguay 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2011;34(2):329-337.
The European wild boar Sus scrofa was first introduced into Uruguay, in southern South America during the early decades of the last century. Subsequently, and starting from founder populations, its range spread throughout the country and into the neighbouring Brazilian state Rio Grande do Sul. Due to the subsequent negative impact, it was officially declared a national pest. The main aim in the present study was to provide a more comprehensive scenario of wild boar differentiation in Uruguay, by using mtDNA markers to access the genetic characterization of populations at present undergoing rapid expansion. A high level of haplotype diversity, intermediate levels of nucleotide diversity and considerable population differentiation, were detected among sampled localities throughout major watercourses and catchment dams countrywide. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the existence of two different phylogroups, thereby reflecting two deliberate introduction events forming distantly genetic lineages in local wild boar populations. Our analysis lends support to the hypothesis that the invasive potential of populations emerge from introgressive hybridization with domestic pigs. On taking into account the appreciable differentiation and reduced migration between locales in wild boar populations, management strategies could be effective if each population were to be considered as a single management unit.
PMCID: PMC3115331  PMID: 21734838
Uruguayan wild boar
13.  Hybrid origin of European commercial pigs examined by an in-depth haplotype analysis on chromosome 1 
Frontiers in Genetics  2015;5:442.
Although all farm animals have an original source of domestication, a large variety of modern breeds exist that are phenotypically highly distinct from the ancestral wild population. This phenomenon can be the result of artificial selection or gene flow from other sources into the domesticated population. The Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) has been domesticated at least twice in two geographically distinct regions during the Neolithic revolution when hunting shifted to farming. Prior to the establishment of the commercial European pig breeds we know today, some 200 years ago Chinese pigs were imported into Europe to improve local European pigs. Commercial European domesticated pigs are genetically more diverse than European wild boars, although historically the latter represents the source population for domestication. In this study we examine the cause of the higher diversity within the genomes of European commercial pigs compared to their wild ancestors by testing two different hypotheses. In the first hypothesis we consider that European commercial pigs are a mix of different European wild populations as a result of movement throughout Europe, hereby acquiring haplotypes from all over the European continent. As an alternative hypothesis, we examine whether the introgression of Asian haplotypes into European breeds during the Industrial Revolution caused the observed increase in diversity. By using re-sequence data for chromosome 1 of 136 pigs and wild boars, we show that an Asian introgression of about 20% into the genome of European commercial pigs explains the majority of the increase in genetic diversity. These findings confirm that the Asian hybridization, that was used to improve production traits of local breeds, left its signature in the genome of the commercial pigs we know today.
PMCID: PMC4283659  PMID: 25601878
Sus scrofa; hybridization; domestication; introgression; genetic variation; haplotype homozygosity
14.  Regions of Homozygosity in the Porcine Genome: Consequence of Demography and the Recombination Landscape 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003100.
Inbreeding has long been recognized as a primary cause of fitness reduction in both wild and domesticated populations. Consanguineous matings cause inheritance of haplotypes that are identical by descent (IBD) and result in homozygous stretches along the genome of the offspring. Size and position of regions of homozygosity (ROHs) are expected to correlate with genomic features such as GC content and recombination rate, but also direction of selection. Thus, ROHs should be non-randomly distributed across the genome. Therefore, demographic history may not fully predict the effects of inbreeding. The porcine genome has a relatively heterogeneous distribution of recombination rate, making Sus scrofa an excellent model to study the influence of both recombination landscape and demography on genomic variation. This study utilizes next-generation sequencing data for the analysis of genomic ROH patterns, using a comparative sliding window approach. We present an in-depth study of genomic variation based on three different parameters: nucleotide diversity outside ROHs, the number of ROHs in the genome, and the average ROH size. We identified an abundance of ROHs in all genomes of multiple pigs from commercial breeds and wild populations from Eurasia. Size and number of ROHs are in agreement with known demography of the populations, with population bottlenecks highly increasing ROH occurrence. Nucleotide diversity outside ROHs is high in populations derived from a large ancient population, regardless of current population size. In addition, we show an unequal genomic ROH distribution, with strong correlations of ROH size and abundance with recombination rate and GC content. Global gene content does not correlate with ROH frequency, but some ROH hotspots do contain positive selected genes in commercial lines and wild populations. This study highlights the importance of the influence of demography and recombination on homozygosity in the genome to understand the effects of inbreeding.
Author Summary
Small populations have an increased risk of inbreeding depression due to a higher expression of deleterious alleles. This can have major consequences for the viability of these populations. In domesticated species like the pig that are artificially selected in breeding populations, but also in wild populations that experience habitat decline, maintaining genetic diversity is essential. Recent advances in sequence technology enabled us to identify patterns of nucleotide variation in individual genomes. We screened the full genome of wild boars and commercial pigs from Eurasia for regions of homozygosity. We found these regions of homozygosity were caused by the demographic history and effective population size of the pigs. European wild boars are least variable, but also European breeds contain large homozygous stretches in their genome. Moreover, the likelihood of a region becoming depleted depends on its position in the genome, because variation has a high correlation with recombination rate. The telomeric regions are much more variable, and the central region of chromosomes has a higher chance of containing long regions of homozygosity. These findings increase knowledge on the fine-scaled architecture of genomic variation, and they are particularly important for population genetic management.
PMCID: PMC3510040  PMID: 23209444
15.  Seroprevalence of porcine proliferative enteropathy among wild boars in the Republic of Korea 
The importance of the wild boar as a reservoir of Lawsonia intracellularis was assessed by investigating the seroprevalence of this pathogen among wild boars in the Republic of Korea. The extent of exposure to L. intracellularis among wild boars (Sus scrofa coreanus) was monitored by a country-wide serological survey using an immunoperoxidase monolayer assay.
In this study, antibodies to L. intracellularis were observed in 165 of 716 clinically healthy wild boars tested. The overall apparent prevalence calculated directly from the sample and the true prevalence calculated based on the accuracy of the test method were 23.0% (95% confidence interval: 20.0-26.3%) and 25.6% (95% confidence interval: 23.9-27.2%), respectively. Serologically positive animals were found in all the tested provinces.
Our results confirm that L. intracellularis is present in the wild boar population worldwide, even in Far East Asia. Despite the high seroprevalence shown in wild boars, further studies are warranted to evaluate their potential as a reservoir species because seroprevalence does not prove ongoing infection nor shedding of the bacteria in amounts sufficient to infect other animals. It should also be determined whether the wild boar, like the domestic pig, is a natural host of L. intracellularis.
PMCID: PMC3883484  PMID: 24393381
Lawsonia intracellularis; Serology; Wild boar
16.  Risk factors for contacts between wild boar and outdoor pigs in Switzerland and investigations on potential Brucella suis spill-over 
Due to the parallel increase of the number of free-ranging wild boar and domestic pigs reared outdoor, the risk that they interact has become higher. Contacts with wild boar can be the origin of disease outbreaks in pigs, as it has been documented for brucellosis in some European countries. This study aimed at quantifying the occurrence of contacts between wild boar and outdoor domestic pigs in Switzerland, and identifying risk factors for these contacts. Furthermore, exposed pigs were tested for pathogen spill-over, taking Brucella suis as an example because B. suis is widespread in Swiss wild boar while domestic pigs are officially free of brucellosis.
Thirty-one percent of the game-wardens and 25% of the pig owners participating to a country-wide questionnaire survey reported contacts, including approaches of wild boar outside the fence, intrusions, and mating. Seventeen piggeries (5%) reported the birth of cross-bred animals. Risk factors for contacts identified by a uni- and multivariable logistic regression approach were: distance between pigs enclosure and houses, proximity of a forest, electric fences, and fences ≤ 60 cm. Pigs of the Mangalitza breed were most at risk for mating with wild boar (births of cross-bred animals). Blood and tissues of 218 outdoor pigs from 13 piggeries were tested for an infection with Brucella suis, using rose bengal test, complement fixation test, and an IS711-based real-time PCR. One piggery with previous wild boar contacts was found infected with B. suis, however, epidemiological investigations failed to identify the direct source of infection.
Results show that interactions between wild boar and outdoor pigs are not uncommon, pointing at the existing risk of pathogen spill-over. Provided data on risk factors for these interactions could help the risk-based implementation of protection measures for piggeries. The documentation of a brucellosis outbreak in pigs despite the freedom-of-disease status underlines the importance of improving pathogen surveillance strategies and increasing disease awareness of farmers and veterinary practitioners.
PMCID: PMC3464720  PMID: 22817843
Brucella suis; Brucellosis; Interactions; Outdoor pigs; Risk factors; Spill-over; Wild boar
17.  Contrasting Mode of Evolution at a Coat Color Locus in Wild and Domestic Pigs 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(1):e1000341.
Despite having only begun ∼10,000 years ago, the process of domestication has resulted in a degree of phenotypic variation within individual species normally associated with much deeper evolutionary time scales. Though many variable traits found in domestic animals are the result of relatively recent human-mediated selection, uncertainty remains as to whether the modern ubiquity of long-standing variable traits such as coat color results from selection or drift, and whether the underlying alleles were present in the wild ancestor or appeared after domestication began. Here, through an investigation of sequence diversity at the porcine melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) locus, we provide evidence that wild and domestic pig (Sus scrofa) haplotypes from China and Europe are the result of strikingly different selection pressures, and that coat color variation is the result of intentional selection for alleles that appeared after the advent of domestication. Asian and European wild boar (evolutionarily distinct subspecies) differed only by synonymous substitutions, demonstrating that camouflage coat color is maintained by purifying selection. In domestic pigs, however, each of nine unique mutations altered the amino acid sequence thus generating coat color diversity. Most domestic MC1R alleles differed by more than one mutation from the wild-type, implying a long history of strong positive selection for coat color variants, during which time humans have cherry-picked rare mutations that would be quickly eliminated in wild contexts. This pattern demonstrates that coat color phenotypes result from direct human selection and not via a simple relaxation of natural selective pressures.
Author Summary
This study addresses why coat colors of domestic animals are so variable, while those of their wild ancestors are so uniform. Specifically, we asked whether this was the result of (i) relaxed purifying selection, (ii) that some mutations affect both coat color and another trait under strong selection (for instance behavior), or (iii) direct human selection for altered coat color phenotypes. We investigated genetic variation in the melanocortin receptor 1 (MC1R) gene among wild and domestic pigs from both Europe and Asia. Though we found a similar number of mutations in wild and domestic pigs, the nature of the mutations was strikingly different. All mutations found among wild boars were silent, i.e., they did not change the protein sequence. This implies strong purifying selection in the wild that maintains camouflage coat color. In contrast, nine out of ten mutations found in domestic pigs altered the protein sequence, thereby drastically transforming the resulting coat color. These results demonstrate that early farmers intentionally selected pigs with novel coat coloring. Their motivations could have been as simple as a preference for the exotic or selection for reduced camouflage to facilitate animal husbandry and/or to make the domesticated forms distinct from their wild ancestor.
PMCID: PMC2613536  PMID: 19148282
18.  Analytical and statistical consideration on the use of the ISAG-ICAR-SNP bovine panel for parentage control, using the Illumina BeadChip technology: example on the German Holstein population 
Parentage control is moving from short tandem repeats- to single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) systems. For SNP-based parentage control in cattle, the ISAG-ICAR Committee proposes a set of 100/200 SNPs but quality criteria are lacking. Regarding German Holstein-Friesian cattle with only a limited number of evaluated individuals, the exclusion probability is not well-defined. We propose a statistical procedure for excluding single SNPs from parentage control, based on case-by-case evaluation of the GenCall score, to minimize parentage exclusion, based on miscalled genotypes. Exclusion power of the ISAG-ICAR SNPs used for the German Holstein-Friesian population was adjusted based on the results of more than 25 000 individuals.
Experimental data were derived from routine genomic selection analyses of the German Holstein-Friesian population using the Illumina BovineSNP50 v2 BeadChip (20 000 individuals) or the EuroG10K variant (7000 individuals). Averages and standard deviations of GenCall scores for the 200 SNPs of the ISAG-ICAR recommended panel were calculated and used to calculate the downward Z-value. Based on minor allelic frequencies in the Holstein-Friesian population, one minus exclusion probability was equal to 1.4×10−10 and 7.2×10−26, with one and two parents, respectively. Two monomorphic SNPs from the 100-SNP ISAG-ICAR core-panel did not contribute. Simulation of 10 000 parentage control combinations, using the GenCall score data from both BeadChips, showed that with a Z-value greater than 3.66 only about 2.5% parentages were excluded, based on the ISAG-ICAR recommendations (core-panel: ≥ 90 SNPs for one, ≥ 85 SNPs for two parents). When applied to real data from 1750 single parentage assessments, the optimal threshold was determined to be Z = 5.0, with only 34 censored cases and reduction to four (0.2%) doubtful parentages. About 70 parentage exclusions due to weak genotype calls were avoided, whereas true exclusions (n = 34) were unaffected.
Using SNPs for parentage evaluation provides a high exclusion power also for parent identification. SNPs with a low GenCall score show a high tendency towards intra-molecular secondary structures and substantially contribute to false exclusion of parentages. We propose a method that controls this error without excluding too many parent combinations from the evaluation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12711-014-0085-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4318447  PMID: 25651826
19.  Implementation of a parentage control system in Portuguese beef-cattle with a panel of microsatellite markers 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2009;32(2):306-311.
A study was conducted to assess the feasibility of applying a panel of 10 microsatellite markers in parentage control of beef cattle in Portugal. In the first stage, DNA samples were collected from 475 randomly selected animals of the Charolais, Limousin and Preta breeds. Across breeds and genetic markers, means for average number of alleles, effective number of alleles, expected heterozygosity and polymorphic information content, were 8.20, 4.43, 0.733 and 0.70, respectively. Enlightenment from the various markers differed among breeds, but the set of 10 markers resulted in a combined probability above 0.9995 in the ability to exclude a random putative parent. The marker-set thus developed was later used for parentage control in a group of 140 calves from several breeds, where there was the suspicion of possible faulty parentage recording. Overall, 76.4% of the calves in this group were compatible with the recorded parents, with most incompatibilities due to misidentification of the dam. Efforts must be made to improve the quality of pedigree information, with particular emphasis on information recorded at the calf's birth.
PMCID: PMC3036942  PMID: 21637685
cattle; genetic markers; microsatellites; parentage control
20.  An international parentage and identification panel for the domestic cat (Felis catus) 
Animal Genetics  2007;38(4):371-377.
Seventeen commercial and research laboratories participated in two comparison tests under the auspices of the International Society for Animal Genetics to develop an internationally tested, microsatellite-based parentage and identification panel for the domestic cat (Felis catus). Genetic marker selection was based on the polymorphism information content and allele ranges from seven random-bred populations (n = 261) from the USA, Europe and Brazil and eight breeds (n = 200) from the USA. Nineteen microsatellite markers were included in the comparison test and genotyped across the samples. Based on robustness and efficiency, nine autosomal microsatellite markers were ultimately selected as a single multiplex ‘core’ panel for cat identification and parentage testing. Most markers contained dinucleotide repeats. In addition to the autosomal markers, the panel included two gender-specific markers, amelogenin and zinc-finger XY, which produced genotypes for both the X and Y chromosomes. This international cat parentage and identification panel has a power of exclusion comparable to panels used in other species, ranging from 90.08% to 99.79% across breeds and 99.47% to 99.87% in random-bred cat populations.
PMCID: PMC1974777  PMID: 17655554
cat; feline; identification; microsatellite; parentage
21.  Signatures of Diversifying Selection in European Pig Breeds 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003453.
Following domestication, livestock breeds have experienced intense selection pressures for the development of desirable traits. This has resulted in a large diversity of breeds that display variation in many phenotypic traits, such as coat colour, muscle composition, early maturity, growth rate, body size, reproduction, and behaviour. To better understand the relationship between genomic composition and phenotypic diversity arising from breed development, the genomes of 13 traditional and commercial European pig breeds were scanned for signatures of diversifying selection using the Porcine60K SNP chip, applying a between-population (differentiation) approach. Signatures of diversifying selection between breeds were found in genomic regions associated with traits related to breed standard criteria, such as coat colour and ear morphology. Amino acid differences in the EDNRB gene appear to be associated with one of these signatures, and variation in the KITLG gene may be associated with another. Other selection signals were found in genomic regions including QTLs and genes associated with production traits such as reproduction, growth, and fat deposition. Some selection signatures were associated with regions showing evidence of introgression from Asian breeds. When the European breeds were compared with wild boar, genomic regions with high levels of differentiation harboured genes related to bone formation, growth, and fat deposition.
Author Summary
The domestic pig, an important source of protein worldwide, was domesticated from the ancestral wild boar in multiple locations throughout the world. In Europe, local types were developed following domestication, but phenotypically distinct breeds only arose in the eighteenth century with the advent of systematic breeding. Recently developed molecular tools for pigs (as well as other livestock species) now allow a genetic characterisation of breed histories, including identification of regions of the genome that have been under selection in the establishment of breeds. We have applied these tools to identify genomic regions associated with breed development in a set of commercial and traditional pig breeds. We found strong evidence of genetic differentiation between breeds near genes associated with traits that are used to define breed standards, such as ear morphology and coat colour, as well as in regions of the genome that are associated with pork production traits. It is well documented that crosses with Asian pigs have been used to modify European breeds. We have found evidence of genetic influence from Asian pigs in European breeds, again in regions of the genome associated with breed standard characteristics, including ear shape and coat colour, as well as production traits.
PMCID: PMC3636142  PMID: 23637623
22.  Spatiotemporal interactions between wild boar and cattle: implications for cross-species disease transmission 
Veterinary Research  2014;45(1):122.
Controlling infectious diseases at the wildlife/livestock interface is often difficult because the ecological processes driving transmission between wildlife reservoirs and sympatric livestock populations are poorly understood. Thus, assessing how animals use their environment and how this affects interspecific interactions is an important factor in determining the local risk for disease transmission and maintenance. We used data from concurrently monitored GPS-collared domestic cattle and wild boar (Sus scrofa) to assess spatiotemporal interactions and associated implications for bovine tuberculosis (TB) transmission in a complex ecological and epidemiological system, Doñana National Park (DNP, South Spain). We found that fine-scale spatial overlap of cattle and wild boar was seasonally high in some habitats. In general, spatial interactions between the two species were highest in the marsh-shrub ecotone and at permanent water sources, whereas shrub-woodlands and seasonal grass-marshlands were areas with lower predicted relative interactions. Wild boar and cattle generally used different resources during winter and spring in DNP. Conversely, limited differences in resource selection during summer and autumn, when food and water availability were limiting, resulted in negligible spatial segregation and thus probably high encounter rates. The spatial gradient in potential overlap between the two species across DNP corresponded well with the spatial variation in the observed incidence of TB in cattle and prevalence of TB in wild boar. We suggest that the marsh-shrub ecotone and permanent water sources act as important points of TB transmission in our system, particularly during summer and autumn. Targeted management actions are suggested to reduce potential interactions between cattle and wild boar in order to prevent disease transmission and design effective control strategies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13567-014-0122-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4264384  PMID: 25496754
23.  Genomic Diversity in Pig (Sus scrofa) and its Comparison with Human and other Livestock 
Current Genomics  2011;12(2):138-146.
We have reviewed the current pig (Sus scrofa) genomic diversity within and between sites and compared them with human and other livestock. The current Porcine 60K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel has an average SNP distance in a range of 30 - 40 kb. Most of genetic variation was distributed within populations, and only a small proportion of them existed between populations. The average heterozygosity was lower in pig than in human and other livestock. Genetic inbreeding coefficient (FIS), population differentiation (FST), and Nei’s genetic distance between populations were much larger in pig than in human and other livestock. Higher average genetic distance existed between European and Asian populations than between European or between Asian populations. Asian breeds harboured much larger variability and higher average heterozygosity than European breeds. The samples of wild boar that have been analyzed displayed more extensive genetic variation than domestic breeds. The average linkage disequilibrium (LD) in improved pig breeds extended to 1 - 3 cM, much larger than that in human (~ 30 kb) and cattle (~ 100 kb), but smaller than that in sheep (~ 10 cM). European breeds showed greater LD that decayed more slowly than Asian breeds. We briefly discuss some processes for maintaining genomic diversity in pig, including migration, introgression, selection, and drift. We conclude that, due to the long time of domestication, the pig possesses lower heterozygosity, higher FIS, and larger LD compared with human and cattle. This implies that a smaller effective population size and less informative markers are needed in pig for genome wide association studies.
PMCID: PMC3129048  PMID: 21966252
Pig; genomic diversity; linkage disequilibrium; human; livestock.
24.  Males and Females Contribute Unequally to Offspring Genetic Diversity in the Polygynandrous Mating System of Wild Boar 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115394.
The maintenance of genetic diversity across generations depends on both the number of reproducing males and females. Variance in reproductive success, multiple paternity and litter size can all affect the relative contributions of male and female parents to genetic variation of progeny. The mating system of the wild boar (Sus scrofa) has been described as polygynous, although evidence of multiple paternity in litters has been found. Using 14 microsatellite markers, we evaluated the contribution of males and females to genetic variation in the next generation in independent wild boar populations from the Iberian Peninsula and Hungary. Genetic contributions of males and females were obtained by distinguishing the paternal and maternal genetic component inherited by the progeny. We found that the paternally inherited genetic component of progeny was more diverse than the maternally inherited component. Simulations showed that this finding might be due to a sampling bias. However, after controlling for the bias by fitting both the genetic diversity in the adult population and the number of reproductive individuals in the models, paternally inherited genotypes remained more diverse than those inherited maternally. Our results suggest new insights into how promiscuous mating systems can help maintain genetic variation.
PMCID: PMC4277350  PMID: 25541986
25.  Molecular pedigree reconstruction and estimation of evolutionary parameters in a wild Atlantic salmon river system with incomplete sampling: a power analysis 
Pedigree reconstruction using genetic analysis provides a useful means to estimate fundamental population biology parameters relating to population demography, trait heritability and individual fitness when combined with other sources of data. However, there remain limitations to pedigree reconstruction in wild populations, particularly in systems where parent-offspring relationships cannot be directly observed, there is incomplete sampling of individuals, or molecular parentage inference relies on low quality DNA from archived material. While much can still be inferred from incomplete or sparse pedigrees, it is crucial to evaluate the quality and power of available genetic information a priori to testing specific biological hypotheses. Here, we used microsatellite markers to reconstruct a multi-generation pedigree of wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) using archived scale samples collected with a total trapping system within a river over a 10 year period. Using a simulation-based approach, we determined the optimal microsatellite marker number for accurate parentage assignment, and evaluated the power of the resulting partial pedigree to investigate important evolutionary and quantitative genetic characteristics of salmon in the system.
We show that at least 20 microsatellites (ave. 12 alleles/locus) are required to maximise parentage assignment and to improve the power to estimate reproductive success and heritability in this study system. We also show that 1.5 fold differences can be detected between groups simulated to have differing reproductive success, and that it is possible to detect moderate heritability values for continuous traits (h2 ~ 0.40) with more than 80% power when using 28 moderately to highly polymorphic markers.
The methodologies and work flow described provide a robust approach for evaluating archived samples for pedigree-based research, even where only a proportion of the total population is sampled. The results demonstrate the feasibility of pedigree-based studies to address challenging ecological and evolutionary questions in free-living populations, where genealogies can be traced only using molecular tools, and that significant increases in pedigree assignment power can be achieved by using higher numbers of markers.
PMCID: PMC4021076  PMID: 24684698
Atlantic salmon; Heritability; Incomplete sampling; MasterBayes; Parentage assignment; Power analysis; Reproductive success

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