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1.  Genetic variability of six indigenous goat breeds using major histocompatibility complex-associated microsatellite markers 
Journal of Veterinary Science  2011;12(2):127-132.
The present study aimed at analyzing the genetic variability of indigenous goat breeds (Capra hircus) using the MHC-associated microsatellite markers BF1, BM1818, BM1258, DYMS1, and SMHCC1. The following breeds were included: Chinese Xuhuai, Indian Changthangi and Pashmina, Kenyan Small East African (SEA) and Galla, and Albanian Vendi. To examine genetic variability, the levels of heterozigosity, degrees of inbreeding, and genetic differences among the breeds were analyzed. The mean number of alleles ranged from nine in the Galla to 14.5 in the Vendi breed. The mean observed heterozygosity and mean expected heterozygosity varied from 0.483 in the Vendi to 0.577 in the Galla breed, and from 0.767 in the SEA to 0.879 in the Vendi breed, respectively. Significant loss of heterozygosity (p < 0.01) indicated that these loci were not in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The mean FIS values ranged from 0.3299 in the SEA to 0.4605 in the Vendi breed with a mean value of 0.3623 in all breeds (p < 0.001). Analysis of molecular variance indicated that 7.14% and 4.74% genetic variation existed among the different breeds and geographic groups, whereas 92.86% and 95.26% existed in the breeds and the geographic groups, respectively (p < 0.001). The microsatellite marker analysis disclosed a high degree of genetic polymorphism. Loss of heterozygosity could be due to genetic drift and endogamy. The genetic variation among populations and geographic groups does not indicate a correlation of genetic differences with geographic distance.
PMCID: PMC3104166  PMID: 21586871
genetic variability; indigenous goat breeds; major histocompatibility complex; microsatellites
2.  Genetic characterization of Barbari goats using microsatellite markers 
Journal of Veterinary Science  2009;10(1):73-76.
Genetic variation in Barbari goats, a highly prolific breed distributed widely in the northern part of India, known for better milk and meat quality, was studied as a part of genetic characterization and conservation. The genomic DNA from 50 unrelated Barbari goats were amplified via PCR with a panel of 21 microsatellite markers, and resolved through 6 per cent denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by silver staining. The number of alleles ranged from 4 to 11, with allele sizes ranging from 88 to 220 bp. The distribution of allele frequencies was between 0.0104 and 0.5208. Polymorphism information content varied from 0.5563 to 0.8348. The population was not in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium for all except two microsatellite loci (ILSTS044 and ILSTS060). The observed heterozygosity ranged from 0.8478 to 1.0000 while the expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.6208 to 0.8509. Based on the results of the present study, there is a good scope for exploiting the genetic variability in the Barbari goats for further improvement of performance.
PMCID: PMC2801097  PMID: 19255527
Barbari goats; genetic characterization; heterozygosity; microsatellite markers; polymorphism
3.  Toll-Like Receptor Responses to Peste des petits ruminants Virus in Goats and Water Buffalo 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111609.
Ovine rinderpest or goat plague is an economically important and contagious viral disease of sheep and goats, caused by the Peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV). Differences in susceptibility to goat plague among different breeds and water buffalo exist. The host innate immune system discriminates between pathogen associated molecular patterns and self antigens through surveillance receptors known as Toll like receptors (TLR). We investigated the role of TLR and cytokines in differential susceptibility of goat breeds and water buffalo to PPRV. We examined the replication of PPRV in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of Indian domestic goats and water buffalo and demonstrated that the levels of TLR3 and TLR7 and downstream signalling molecules correlation with susceptibility vs resistance. Naturally susceptible goat breeds, Barbari and Tellichery, had dampened innate immune responses to PPRV and increased viral loads with lower basal expression levels of TLR 3/7. Upon stimulation of PBMC with synthetic TLR3 and TLR7 agonists or PPRV, the levels of proinflammatory cytokines were found to be significantly higher while immunosuppressive interleukin (IL) 10 levels were lower in PPRV resistant Kanni and Salem Black breeds and water buffalo at transcriptional level, correlating with reduced viralloads in infected PBMC. Water buffalo produced higher levels of interferon (IFN) α in comparison with goats at transcriptional and translational levels. Pre-treatment of Vero cells with human IFNα resulted in reduction of PPRV replication, confirming the role of IFNα in limiting PPRV replication. Treatment with IRS66, a TLR7 antagonist, resulted in the reduction of IFNα levels, with increased PPRV replication confirming the role of TLR7. Single nucleotide polymorphism analysis of TLR7 of these goat breeds did not show any marked nucleotide differences that might account for susceptibility vs resistance to PPRV. Analyzing other host genetic factors might provide further insights on susceptibility to PPRV and genetic polymorphisms in the host.
PMCID: PMC4219731  PMID: 25369126
4.  Effects of CSN1S2 Genotypes on Economic Traits in Chinese Dairy Goats 
The aim of this study was to investigate allele frequencies at the CSN1S2 locus in two Chinese dairy goat breeds and the effects of its variation on dairy goat economic traits. Seven hundred and eight goats from Xinong Saanen (XS, n = 268) and Guanzhong (GZ, N = 440) breeds were selected. The milk samples of 268 XS goats were collected during the middle of lactation, body size parameters (708 goats) and daily milk yield (202 goats) were registered. The RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) and SSCP (single strand conformation polymorphism) were used to detect the polymorphisms in CSN1S2. The Hardy-Weinberg (HW) equilibrium and the associations between body size, milk yield and composition and the genotypes were calculated. The results revealed that only A and F CSN1S2 alleles were found in the two Chinese dairy goat breeds. Allelic frequencies of A and F were 0.795, 0.205 and 0.739, 0.261 in Xinong Saanen and Guanzhong population respectively. Xinong Saanen breed was in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, while Guanzhong breed deviated from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (p<0.05). The association of polymorphism with economic traits indicated that the goats with FF genotype have higher milk fat and total solid concentration than those with AA and AF genotypes (p<0.05).
PMCID: PMC4093498  PMID: 25049867
CSN1S2; SNP; Dairy Goats; Milk; A and F Alleles
5.  Genetic relationships among twelve Chinese indigenous goat populations based on microsatellite analysis 
Twelve Chinese indigenous goat populations were genotyped for twenty-six microsatellite markers recommended by the EU Sheep and Goat Biodiversity Project. A total of 452 goats were tested. Seventeen of the 26 microsatellite markers used in this analysis had four or more alleles. The mean expected heterozygosity and the mean observed heterozygosity for the population varied from 0.611 to 0.784 and 0.602 to 0.783 respectively. The mean FST (0.105) demonstrated that about 89.5% of the total genetic variation was due to the genetic differentiation within each population. A phylogenetic tree based on the Nei (1978) standard genetic distance displayed a remarkable degree of consistency with their different geographical origins and their presumed migration throughout China. The correspondence analysis did not only distinguish population groups, but also confirmed the above results, classifying the important populations contributing to diversity. Additionally, some specific alleles were shown to be important in the construction of the population structure. The study analyzed the recent origins of these populations and contributed to the knowledge and genetic characterization of Chinese indigenous goat populations. In addition, the seventeen microsatellites recommended by the EU Sheep and Goat Biodiversity Project proved to be useful for the biodiversity studies in goat breeds.
PMCID: PMC2705446  PMID: 12473236
genetic relationship; microsatellite; goat; Chinese indigenous population
6.  Investigation of the genetic diversity of domestic Capra hircus breeds reared within an early goat domestication area in Iran 
Iran is an area of particular interest for investigating goat diversity. Archaeological remains indicate early goat domestication (about 10 000 years ago) in the Iranian Zagros Mountains as well as in the high Euphrates valley and southeastern Anatolia. In addition, mitochondrial DNA data of domestic goats and wild ancestors (C. aegagrusor bezoar) suggest a pre-domestication management of wild populations in southern Zagros and central Iranian Plateau. In this study genetic diversity was assessed in seven Iranian native goat breeds, namely Markhoz, Najdi, Taleshi, Khalkhali, Naini, native Abadeh and Turki-Ghashghaei. A total of 317 animals were characterized using 14 microsatellite loci. Two Pakistani goat populations, Pahari and Teddy, were genotyped for comparison.
Iranian goats possess a remarkable genetic diversity (average expected heterozygosity of 0.671 across loci, 10.7 alleles per locus) mainly accounted for by the within-breed component (GST = 5.9%). Positive and highly significant FIS values in the Naini, Turki-Ghashghaei, Abadeh and Markhoz breeds indicate some level of inbreeding in these populations. Multivariate analyses cluster Iranian goats into northern, central and western groups, with the western breeds relatively distinct from the others. Pakistani breeds show some relationship with Iranian populations, even if their position is not consistent across analyses. Gene flow was higher within regions (west, north, central) compared to between regions but particularly low between the western and the other two regions, probably due to the isolating topography of the Zagros mountain range. The Turki-Ghashghaei, Najdi and Abadeh breeds are reared in geographic areas where mtDNA provided evidence of early domestication. These breeds are highly variable, located on basal short branches in the neighbor-joining tree, close to the origin of the principal component analysis plot and, although highly admixed, they are quite distinct from those reared on the western side of the Zagros mountain range.
These observations call for further investigation of the nuclear DNA diversity of these breeds within a much wider geographic context to confirm or re-discuss the current hypothesis (based on maternal lineage data) of an almost exclusive contribution of the eastern Anatolian bezoar to the domestic goat gene pool.
PMCID: PMC4044659  PMID: 24742145
7.  Association analysis between variants in KISS1 gene and litter size in goats 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:63.
Kisspeptins are the peptide products of KISS1 gene, which operate via the G - protein-coupled receptor GPR54. These peptides have emerged as essential upstream regulators of neurons secreting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), the major hypothalamic node for the stimulatory control of the hypothalamic–pituitary– gonadal (HPG) axis. The present study detected the polymorphisms of caprine KISS1 gene in three goat breeds and investigated the associations between these genetic markers and litter size.
Three goat breeds (n = 680) were used to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the coding regions with their intron–exon boundaries and the proximal flanking regions of KISS1 gene by DNA sequencing and PCR–RFLP. Eleven novel SNPs (g.384G>A, g.1147T>C, g.1417G>A, g.1428_1429delG, g.2124C>T, g.2270C>T, g.2489T>C, g.2510G>A, g.2540C>T, g.3864_3865delCA and g.3885_3886insACCCC) were identified. It was shown that Xinong Saanen and Guanzhong goat breeds were in Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium at g.384G>A locus (P < 0.05). Both g.2510G>A and g.2540C>T loci were closely linked in Xinong Saanen (SN), Guanzhong (GZ) and Boer (BG) goat breeds (r2 > 0.33). The g.384G>A, g.2489T>C, g.2510G>A and g.2540C>T SNPs were associated with litter size (P<0.05). Individuals with AATTAATT combinative genotype of SN breed (SC) and TTAATT combinative genotype of BG breed (BC) had higher litter size than those with other combinative genotypes in average parity. The results extend the spectrum of genetic variation of the caprine KISS1 gene, which might contribute to goat genetic resources and breeding.
This study explored the genetic polymorphism of KISS1 gene, and indicated that four SNPs may play an important role in litter size. Their genetic mechanism of reproduction in goat breeds should be further investigated. The female goats with SC1 (AATTAATT) and BC7 (TTAATT) had higher litter size than those with other combinative genotypes in average parity and could be used for the development of new breeds of prolific goats. Further research on a large number of animals is required to confirm the link with increased prolificacy in goats.
PMCID: PMC3734198  PMID: 23915023
Combinative genotype; SNP; PCR-RFLP; Candidate gene
8.  Genetic Structure of Chinese Indigenous Goats and the Special Geographical Structure in the Southwest China as a Geographic Barrier Driving the Fragmentation of a Large Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94435.
China has numerous native domestic goat breeds, however, extensive studies are focused on the genetic diversity within the fewer breeds and limited regions, the population demograogic history and origin of Chinese goats are still unclear. The roles of geographical structure have not been analyzed in Chinese goat domestic process. In this study, the genetic relationships of Chinese indigenous goat populations were evaluated using 30 microsatellite markers.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Forty Chinese indigenous populations containing 2078 goats were sampled from different geographic regions of China. Moderate genetic diversity at the population level (HS of 0.644) and high population diversity at the species level (HT value of 0.737) were estimated. Significant moderate population differentiation was detected (FST value of 0.129). Significant excess homozygosity (FIS of 0.105) and recent population bottlenecks were detected in thirty-six populations. Neighbour-joining tree, principal components analysis and Bayesian clusters all revealed that Chinese goat populations could be subdivided into at least four genetic clusters: Southwest China, South China, Northwest China and East China. It was observed that the genetic diversity of Northern China goats was highest among these clusters. The results here suggested that the goat populations in Southwest China might be the earliest domestic goats in China.
Our results suggested that the current genetic structure of Chinese goats were resulted from the special geographical structure, especially in the Western China, and the Western goat populations had been separated by the geographic structure (Hengduan Mountains and Qinling Mountains-Huaihe River Line) into two clusters: the Southwest and Northwest. It also indicated that the current genetic structure was caused by the geographical origin mainly, in close accordance with the human’s migration history throughout China. This study provides a fundamental genetic profile for the conservation of these populations and better to understand the domestication process and origin of Chinese goats.
PMCID: PMC3981790  PMID: 24718092
9.  Genetic Differentiation of Chinese Indigenous Meat Goats Ascertained Using Microsatellite Information 
To investigate the genetic diversity of seven Chinese indigenous meat goat breeds (Tibet goat, Guizhou white goat, Shannan white goat, Yichang white goat, Matou goat, Changjiangsanjiaozhou white goat and Anhui white goat), explain their genetic relationship and assess their integrity and degree of admixture, 302 individuals from these breeds and 42 Boer goats introduced from Africa as reference samples were genotyped for 11 microsatellite markers. Results indicated that the genetic diversity of Chinese indigenous meat goats was rich. The mean heterozygosity and the mean allelic richness (AR) for the 8 goat breeds varied from 0.697 to 0.738 and 6.21 to 7.35, respectively. Structure analysis showed that Tibet goat breed was genetically distinct and was the first to separate and the other Chinese goats were then divided into two sub-clusters: Shannan white goat and Yichang white goat in one cluster; and Guizhou white goat, Matou goat, Changjiangsanjiaozhou white goat and Anhui white goat in the other cluster. This grouping pattern was further supported by clustering analysis and Principal component analysis. These results may provide a scientific basis for the characteristization, conservation and utilization of Chinese meat goats.
PMCID: PMC4093133  PMID: 25049548
Meat Goat; Genetic Diversity; Genetic Differentiation; Microsatellite
10.  Ascertaining gene flow patterns in livestock populations of developing countries: a case study in Burkina Faso goat 
BMC Genetics  2012;13:35.
Introgression of Sahel livestock genes southwards in West Africa may be favoured by human activity and the increase of the duration of the dry seasons since the 1970’s. The aim of this study is to assess the gene flow patterns in Burkina Faso goat and to ascertain the most likely factors influencing geographic patterns of genetic variation in the Burkina Faso goat population.
A total of 520 goat were sampled in 23 different locations of Burkina Faso and genotyped for a set of 19 microsatellites. Data deposited in the Dryad repository: Although overall differentiation is poor (FST = 0.067 ± 0.003), the goat population of Burkina Faso is far from being homogeneous. Barrier analysis pointed out the existence of: a) genetic discontinuities in the Central and Southeast Burkina Faso; and b) genetic differences within the goat sampled in the Sahel or the Sudan areas of Burkina Faso. Principal component analysis and admixture proportion scores were computed for each population sampled and used to construct interpolation maps. Furthermore, Population Graph analysis revealed that the Sahel and the Sudan environmental areas of Burkina Faso were connected through a significant number of extended edges, which would be consistent with the hypothesis of long-distance dispersal. Genetic variation of Burkina Faso goat followed a geographic-related pattern. This pattern of variation is likely to be related to the presence of vectors of African animal trypanosomosis. Partial Mantel test identified the present Northern limit of trypanosome vectors as the most significant landscape boundary influencing the genetic variability of Burkina Faso goat (p = 0.008). The contribution of Sahel goat genes to the goat populations in the Northern and Eastern parts of the Sudan-Sahel area of Burkina Faso was substantial. The presence of perennial streams explains the existence of trypanosome vectors. The South half of the Nakambé river (Southern Ouagadougou) and the Mouhoun river loop determined, respectively, the Eastern and Northern limits for the expansion of Sahelian goat genes. Furthermore, results from partial Mantel test suggest that the introgression of Sahelian goat genes into Djallonké goat using human-influenced genetic corridors has a limited influence when compared to the biological boundary defined by the northern limits for the distribution of the tsetse fly. However, the genetic differences found between the goat sampled in Bobo Dioulasso and the other populations located in the Sudan area of Burkina Faso may be explained by the broad goat trade favoured by the main road of the country.
The current analysis clearly suggests that genetic variation in Burkina Faso goat: a) follows a North to South clinal; and b) is affected by the distribution of the tsetse fly that imposes a limit to the Sahelian goat expansion due to their trypanosusceptibility. Here we show how extensive surveys on livestock populations can be useful to indirectly assess the consequences of climate change and human action in developing countries.
PMCID: PMC3413537  PMID: 22564289
11.  Microsatellite based genetic diversity and population structure of the endangered Spanish Guadarrama goat breed 
BMC Genetics  2009;10:61.
Assessing genetic biodiversity and population structure of minor breeds through the information provided by neutral molecular markers, allows determination of their extinction risk and to design strategies for their management and conservation. Analysis of microsatellite loci is known to be highly informative in the reconstruction of the historical processes underlying the evolution and differentiation of animal populations. Guadarrama goat is a threatened Spanish breed which actual census (2008) consists of 3057 females and 203 males distributed in 22 populations more or less isolated. The aim of this work is to study the genetic status of this breed through the analysis of molecular data from 10 microsatellites typed in historic and actual live animals.
The mean expected heterozygosity across loci within populations ranged from 0.62 to 0.77. Genetic differentiation measures were moderate, with a mean FST of 0.074, GST of 0.081 and RST of 0.085. Percentages of variation among and within populations were 7.5 and 92.5, respectively. Bayesian clustering analyses pointed out a population subdivision in 16 clusters, however, no correlation between geographical distances and genetic differences was found. Management factors such as the limited exchange of animals between farmers (estimated gene flow Nm = 3.08) mostly due to sanitary and social constraints could be the major causes affecting Guadarrama goat population subdivision.
Genetic diversity measures revealed a good status of biodiversity in the Guadarrama goat breed. Since diseases are the first cause affecting the census in this breed, population subdivision would be an advantage for its conservation. However, to maintain private alleles present at low frequencies in such small populations minimizing the inbreeding rate, it would necessitate some mating designs of animals carrying such alleles among populations. The systematic use of molecular markers will facilitate the comprehensive management of these populations, which in combination with the actual breeding program to increase milk yield, will constitute a good strategy to preserve the breed.
PMCID: PMC2761942  PMID: 19785776
12.  Introgression from Domestic Goat Generated Variation at the Major Histocompatibility Complex of Alpine Ibex 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(6):e1004438.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a crucial component of the vertebrate immune system and shows extremely high levels of genetic polymorphism. The extraordinary genetic variation is thought to be ancient polymorphisms maintained by balancing selection. However, introgression from related species was recently proposed as an additional mechanism. Here we provide evidence for introgression at the MHC in Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex). At a usually very polymorphic MHC exon involved in pathogen recognition (DRB exon 2), Alpine ibex carried only two alleles. We found that one of these DRB alleles is identical to a DRB allele of domestic goats (Capra aegagrus hircus). We sequenced 2489 bp of the coding and non-coding regions of the DRB gene and found that Alpine ibex homozygous for the goat-type DRB exon 2 allele showed nearly identical sequences (99.8%) to a breed of domestic goats. Using Sanger and RAD sequencing, microsatellite and SNP chip data, we show that the chromosomal region containing the goat-type DRB allele has a signature of recent introgression in Alpine ibex. A region of approximately 750 kb including the DRB locus showed high rates of heterozygosity in individuals carrying one copy of the goat-type DRB allele. These individuals shared SNP alleles both with domestic goats and other Alpine ibex. In a survey of four Alpine ibex populations, we found that the region surrounding the DRB allele shows strong linkage disequilibria, strong sequence clustering and low diversity among haplotypes carrying the goat-type allele. Introgression at the MHC is likely adaptive and introgression critically increased MHC DRB diversity in the genetically impoverished Alpine ibex. Our finding contradicts the long-standing view that genetic variability at the MHC is solely a consequence of ancient trans-species polymorphism. Introgression is likely an underappreciated source of genetic diversity at the MHC and other loci under balancing selection.
Author Summary
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a crucial component of the defense against pathogens, contains the most polymorphic functional genes in vertebrate genomes. The extraordinary genetic variation is generally considered to be ancient. We investigated whether a previously neglected mechanism, introgression from related species, provides an additional source of MHC variation. We show that introgression from domestic goat dramatically increased genetic variation at the MHC of Alpine ibex, a species that had nearly gone extinct during the 18th century, but has been restored to large numbers since. We show that Alpine ibex share one of only two alleles at a generally highly polymorphic MHC locus with domestic goats and that the chromosomal region containing the goat-type allele has a signature of recent introgression. Our finding contradicts the long-standing view that ancient trans-species polymorphism is the sole source of the extraordinary genetic variability at the MHC. Instead, we show that in Alpine ibex introgression generated genetic diversity at a MHC locus. Our study supports the view that loci favoring genetic polymorphism may be susceptible to adaptive introgression from related species and will encourage future research to identify unexpected signatures of introgression.
PMCID: PMC4063738  PMID: 24945814
13.  Genetic Variation and Population Structure in Jamunapari Goats Using Microsatellites, Mitochondrial DNA, and Milk Protein Genes 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:618909.
Jamunapari, a dairy goat breed of India, has been gradually declining in numbers in its home tract over the years. We have analysed genetic variation and population history in Jamunapari goats based on 17 microsatellite loci, 2 milk protein loci, mitochondrial hypervariable region I (HVRI) sequencing, and three Y-chromosomal gene sequencing. We used the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mismatch distribution, microsatellite data, and bottleneck tests to infer the population history and demography. The mean number of alleles per locus was 9.0 indicating that the allelic variation was high in all the loci and the mean heterozygosity was 0.769 at nuclear loci. Although the population size is smaller than 8,000 individuals, the amount of variability both in terms of allelic richness and gene diversity was high in all the microsatellite loci except ILST 005. The gene diversity and effective number of alleles at milk protein loci were higher than the 10 other Indian goat breeds that they were compared to. Mismatch analysis was carried out and the analysis revealed that the population curve was unimodal indicating the expansion of population. The genetic diversity of Y-chromosome genes was low in the present study. The observed mean M ratio in the population was above the critical significance value (Mc) and close to one indicating that it has maintained a slowly changing population size. The mode-shift test did not detect any distortion of allele frequency and the heterozygosity excess method showed that there was no significant departure from mutation-drift equilibrium detected in the population. However, the effects of genetic bottlenecks were observed in some loci due to decreased heterozygosity and lower level of M ratio. There were two observed genetic subdivisions in the population supporting the observations of farmers in different areas. This base line information on genetic diversity, bottleneck analysis, and mismatch analysis was obtained to assist the conservation decision and management of the breed.
PMCID: PMC3349149  PMID: 22606053
14.  Genetic diversity in Spanish donkey breeds using microsatellite DNA markers 
Genetic diversity at 13 equine microsatellite loci was compared in five endangered Spanish donkey breeds: Andaluza, Catalana, Mallorquina, Encartaciones and Zamorano-Leonesa. All of the equine microsatellites used in this study were amplified and were polymorphic in the domestic donkey breeds with the exception of HMS1, which was monomorphic, and ASB2, which failed to amplify. Allele number, frequency distributions and mean heterozygosities were very similar among the Spanish donkey breeds. The unbiased expected heterozygosity (HE) over all the populations varied between 0.637 and 0.684 in this study. The low GST value showed that only 3.6% of the diversity was between breeds (P < 0.01). Significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were shown for a number of locus-population combinations, except HMS5 that showed agreement in all analysed populations. The cumulative exclusion probability (PE) was 0.999 in each breed, suggesting that the loci would be suitable for donkey parentage testing. The constructed dendrogram from the DA distance matrix showed little differentiation between Spanish breeds, but great differentiation between them and the Moroccan ass and also with the horse, used as an outgroup. These results confirm the potential use of equine microsatellite loci as a tool for genetic studies in domestic donkey populations, which could also be useful for conservation plans.
PMCID: PMC2705415  PMID: 11559485
donkey; endangered breed; microsatellite; diversity; genetic variability
15.  Genetic diversity, introgression and relationships among West/Central African cattle breeds 
Genetic diversity, introgression and relationships were studied in 521 individuals from 9 African Bos indicus and 3 Bos taurus cattle breeds in Cameroon and Nigeria using genotype information on 28 markers (16 microsatellite, 7 milk protein and 5 blood protein markers). The genotypes of 13 of the 16 microsatellite markers studied on three European (German Angus, German Simmental and German Yellow) and two Indian (Nelore and Ongole) breeds were used to assess the relationships between them and the African breeds. Diversity levels at microsatellite loci were higher in the zebu than in the taurine breeds and were generally similar for protein loci in the breeds in each group. Microsatellite allelic distribution displayed groups of alleles specific to the Indian zebu, African taurine and European taurine. The level of the Indian zebu genetic admixture proportions in the African zebus was higher than the African taurine and European taurine admixture proportions, and ranged from 58.1% to 74.0%. The African taurine breed, Muturu was free of Indian zebu genes while its counter Namchi was highly introgressed (30.2%). Phylogenic reconstruction and principal component analysis indicate close relationships among the zebu breeds in Cameroon and Nigeria and a large genetic divergence between the main cattle groups – African taurine, European taurine and Indian zebu, and a central position for the African zebus. The study presents the first comprehensive information on the hybrid composition of the individual cattle breeds of Cameroon and Nigeria and the genetic relationships existing among them and other breeds outside of Africa. Strong evidence supporting separate domestication events for the Bos species is also provided.
PMCID: PMC2697200  PMID: 15496287
genetic diversity; introgression; relationship; cattle
16.  Optimized diffusion of buck semen for saving genetic variability in selected dairy goat populations 
BMC Genetics  2011;12:25.
Current research on quantitative genetics has provided efficient guidelines for the sustainable management of selected populations: genetic gain is maximized while the loss of genetic diversity is maintained at a reasonable rate. However, actual selection schemes are complex, especially for large domestic species, and they have to take into account many operational constraints. This paper deals with the actual selection of dairy goats where the challenge is to optimize diffusion of buck semen on the field. Three objectives are considered simultaneously: i) natural service buck replacement (NSR); ii) goat replacement (GR); iii) semen distribution of young bucks to be progeny-tested. An appropriate optimization method is developed, which involves five analytical steps. Solutions are obtained by simulated annealing and the corresponding algorithms are presented in detail.
The whole procedure was tested on two French goat populations (Alpine and Saanen breeds) and the results presented in the abstract were based on the average of the two breeds. The procedure induced an immediate acceleration of genetic gain in comparison with the current annual genetic gain (0.15 genetic standard deviation unit), as shown by two facts. First, the genetic level of replacement natural service (NS) bucks was predicted, 1.5 years ahead at the moment of reproduction, to be equivalent to that of the progeny-tested bucks in service, born from the current breeding scheme. Second, the genetic level of replacement goats was much higher than that of their dams (0.86 unit), which represented 6 years of selection, although dams were only 3 years older than their replacement daughters. This improved genetic gain could be achieved while decreasing inbreeding coefficients substantially. Inbreeding coefficients (%) of NS bucks was lower than that of the progeny-tested bucks (-0.17). Goats were also less inbred than their dams (-0.67).
It was possible to account for complex operational constraints while developing goat selection schemes, both efficient and sustainable. Therefore, the recommended selection and mating decisions might receive attention from goat breeders using both AI and NS.
PMCID: PMC3042970  PMID: 21306617
17.  Development of a model webserver for breed identification using microsatellite DNA marker 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:118.
Identification of true to breed type animal for conservation purpose is imperative. Breed dilution is one of the major problems in sustainability except cases of commercial crossbreeding under controlled condition. Breed descriptor has been developed to identify breed but such descriptors cover only “pure breed” or true to the breed type animals excluding undefined or admixture population. Moreover, in case of semen, ova, embryo and breed product, the breed cannot be identified due to lack of visible phenotypic descriptors. Advent of molecular markers like microsatellite and SNP have revolutionized breed identification from even small biological tissue or germplasm. Microsatellite DNA marker based breed assignments has been reported in various domestic animals. Such methods have limitations viz. non availability of allele data in public domain, thus each time all reference breed has to be genotyped which is neither logical nor economical. Even if such data is available but computational methods needs expertise of data analysis and interpretation.
We found Bayesian Networks as best classifier with highest accuracy of 98.7% using 51850 reference allele data generated by 25 microsatellite loci on 22 goat breed population of India. The FST values in the study were seen to be low ranging from 0.051 to 0.297 and overall genetic differentiation of 13.8%, suggesting more number of loci needed for higher accuracy. We report here world’s first model webserver for breed identification using microsatellite DNA markers freely accessible at
Higher number of loci is required due to less differentiable population and large number of breeds taken in this study. This server will reduce the cost with computational ease. This methodology can be a model for various other domestic animal species as a valuable tool for conservation and breed improvement programmes.
PMCID: PMC3890620  PMID: 24320218
Bayesian network; Breed; Goat; Microsatellite; Prediction; Webserver
18.  Genetic diversity of eleven European pig breeds 
A set of eleven pig breeds originating from six European countries, and including a small sample of wild pigs, was chosen for this study of genetic diversity. Diversity was evaluated on the basis of 18 microsatellite markers typed over a total of 483 DNA samples collected. Average breed heterozygosity varied from 0.35 to 0.60. Genotypic frequencies generally agreed with Hardy-Weinberg expectations, apart from the German Landrace and Schwäbisch-Hällisches breeds, which showed significantly reduced heterozygosity. Breed differentiation was significant as shown by the high among-breed fixation index (overall FST = 0.27), and confirmed by the clustering based on the genetic distances between individuals, which grouped essentially all individuals in 11 clusters corresponding to the 11 breeds. The genetic distances between breeds were first used to construct phylogenetic trees. The trees indicated that a genetic drift model might explain the divergence of the two German breeds, but no reliable phylogeny could be inferred among the remaining breeds. The same distances were also used to measure the global diversity of the set of breeds considered, and to evaluate the marginal loss of diversity attached to each breed. In that respect, the French Basque breed appeared to be the most "unique" in the set considered. This study, which remains to be extended to a larger set of European breeds, indicates that using genetic distances between breeds of farm animals in a classical taxonomic approach may not give clear resolution, but points to their usefulness in a prospective evaluation of diversity.
PMCID: PMC2706869  PMID: 14736401
genetic diversity; molecular marker; conservation; pig; European breed
19.  Analysis of Geographic and Pairwise Distances among Chinese Cashmere Goat Populations 
This study investigated the geographic and pairwise distances of nine Chinese local Cashmere goat populations through the analysis of 20 microsatellite DNA markers. Fluorescence PCR was used to identify the markers, which were selected based on their significance as identified by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG). In total, 206 alleles were detected; the average allele number was 10.30; the polymorphism information content of loci ranged from 0.5213 to 0.7582; the number of effective alleles ranged from 4.0484 to 4.6178; the observed heterozygosity was from 0.5023 to 0.5602 for the practical sample; the expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.5783 to 0.6464; and Allelic richness ranged from 4.7551 to 8.0693. These results indicated that Chinese Cashmere goat populations exhibited rich genetic diversity. Further, the Wright’s F-statistics of subpopulation within total (FST) was 0.1184; the genetic differentiation coefficient (GST) was 0.0940; and the average gene flow (Nm) was 2.0415. All pairwise FST values among the populations were highly significant (p<0.01 or p<0.001), suggesting that the populations studied should all be considered to be separate breeds. Finally, the clustering analysis divided the Chinese Cashmere goat populations into at least four clusters, with the Hexi and Yashan goat populations alone in one cluster. These results have provided useful, practical, and important information for the future of Chinese Cashmere goat breeding.
PMCID: PMC4093469  PMID: 25049794
Cashmere Goat; Geographic Distance; Pairwise Distance; Genetic Diversity
20.  Analysis of genetic diversity in Brown Swiss, Jersey and Holstein populations using genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism markers 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:161.
Studies of genetic diversity are essential in understanding the extent of differentiation between breeds, and in designing successful diversity conservation strategies. The objective of this study was to evaluate the level of genetic diversity within and between North American Brown Swiss (BS, n = 900), Jersey (JE, n = 2,922) and Holstein (HO, n = 3,535) cattle, using genotyped bulls. GENEPOP and FSTAT software were used to evaluate the level of genetic diversity within each breed and between each pair of the three breeds based on genome-wide SNP markers (n = 50,972).
Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) exact test within breeds showed a significant deviation from equilibrium within each population (P < 0.01), which could be a result of selection, genetic drift and inbreeding within each breed. Hardy-Weinberg test also confirmed significant heterozygote deficit in each breed over several loci. Moreover, results from population differentiation tests showed that the majority of loci have alleles or genotypes drawn from different distributions in each breed. Average gene diversity, expressed in terms of observed heterozygosity, over all loci in BS, JE and HO was 0.27, 0.26 and 0.31, respectively. The proportion of genetic diversity due to allele frequency differences among breeds (Fst) indicated that the combination of BS and HO in an ideally amalgamated population had higher genetic diversity than the other pairs of breeds.
Results suggest that the three bull populations have substantially different gene pools. BS and HO show the largest gene differentiation and jointly the highest total expected gene diversity compared to when JE is considered. If the loss of genetic diversity within breeds worsens in the future, the use of crossbreeding might be an option to recover genetic diversity, especially for the breeds with small population size.
PMCID: PMC3428661  PMID: 22439716
Genetic diversity; SNPs; Genome-wide
21.  Geographical patterning of sixteen goat breeds from Italy, Albania and Greece assessed by Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms 
BMC Ecology  2009;9:20.
SNP data of goats of three Mediterranean countries were used for population studies and reconstruction of geographical patterning. 496 individuals belonging to Italian, Albanian and Greek breeds were genotyped to assess the basic population parameters.
A total of 26 SNPs were used, for a total of 12,896 genotypes assayed. Statistical analysis revealed that breeds are not so similar in terms of genetic variability, as reported in studies performed using different markers. The Mantel test showed a strongly significant correlation between genetic and geographic distance. Also, PCA analysis revealed that breeds are grouped according to geographical origin, with the exception of the Greek Skopelos breed.
Our data point out that the use of SNP markers to analyze a wider breed sample could help in understanding the recent evolutionary history of domestic goats. We found correlation between genetic diversity and geographic distance. Also PCA analysis shows that the breeds are well differentiated, with good correspondence to geographical locations, thus confirming the correlation between geographical and genetic distances. This suggests that migration history of the species played a pivotal role in the present-day structure of the breeds and a scenario in which coastal routes were easier for migrating in comparison with inland routes. A westward coastal route to Italy through Greece could have led to gene flow along the Northern Mediterranean.
PMCID: PMC2754418  PMID: 19725964
22.  Morphological and microsatellite DNA diversity of Nigerian indigenous sheep 
Sheep is important in the socio-economic lives of people around the world. It is estimated that more than half of our once common livestock breeds are now endangered. Since genetic characterization of Nigerian sheep is still lacking, we analyzed ten morphological traits on 402 animals and 15 microsatellite DNA markers in 384 animals of the 4 Nigerian sheep breeds to better understand genetic diversity for breeding management and germplasm conservation.
Morphological traits of Uda and Balami were significantly (P < 0.05) higher than Yankasa, which were both higher than West African Dwarf (WAD) sheep. Stepwise discriminant analysis showed tail length, rump height, chest girth, ear length and chest depth as the most discriminating variables for classification. Mahalanobis distances show the least differentiation between Uda and Balami and the largest between WAD and Balami sheep. While 93.3% of WAD sheep were correctly assigned to their source genetic group, 63.9% of Yankasa, 61.2% of Balami and 45.2% of Uda were classified correctly by nearest neighbour discriminant analysis. The overall high Polymorphism Information Content (PIC) of all microsatellite markers ranged from 0.751 to 0.927 supporting their use in genetic characterization. Expected heterozygosity was high for all loci (0.783 to 0.93). Mean heterozygote deficiency across all populations (0.171 to 0.534) possibly indicate significant inbreeding (P < 0.05). Mean values for FST, FIT and FIS statistics across all loci were 0.088, 0.394 and 0.336 respectively. Yankasa and Balami are the most closely related breeds (DA = 0.184) while WAD and Balami are the farthest apart breeds (DA = 0.665), which is coincident with distance based on morphological analysis and population structure assessed by STRUCTURE.
These results suggest that within-breed genetic variation in Nigerian sheep is higher than between-breeds and may be a valuable tool for genetic improvement and conservation. The higher genetic variability in Yankasa suggests the presence of unique ancestral alleles reflecting the presence of certain functional genes which may result in better adaptability in more agro-ecological zones of Nigeria. These genetic characteristics are potentially useful in planning improvement and conservation strategies in Nigerian indigenous sheep.
PMCID: PMC3563600  PMID: 23176051
Discriminant analysis; Genetic distance; Microsatellite DNA; Morphological traits; Nigerian sheep
23.  Vietnamese chickens: a gate towards Asian genetic diversity 
BMC Genetics  2010;11:53.
Chickens represent an important animal genetic resource and the conservation of local breeds is an issue for the preservation of this resource. The genetic diversity of a breed is mainly evaluated through its nuclear diversity. However, nuclear genetic diversity does not provide the same information as mitochondrial genetic diversity. For the species Gallus gallus, at least 8 maternal lineages have been identified. While breeds distributed westward from the Indian subcontinent usually share haplotypes from 1 to 2 haplogroups, Southeast Asian breeds exhibit all the haplogroups. The Vietnamese Ha Giang (HG) chicken has been shown to exhibit a very high nuclear diversity but also important rates of admixture with wild relatives. Its geographical position, within one of the chicken domestication centres ranging from Thailand to the Chinese Yunnan province, increases the probability of observing a very high genetic diversity for maternal lineages, and in a way, improving our understanding of the chicken domestication process.
A total of 106 sequences from Vietnamese HG chickens were first compared to the sequences of published Chinese breeds. The 25 haplotypes observed in the Vietnamese HG population belonged to six previously published haplogroups which are: A, B, C, D, F and G. On average, breeds from the Chinese Yunnan province carried haplotypes from 4.3 haplogroups. For the HG population, haplogroup diversity is found at both the province and the village level (0.69).
The AMOVA results show that genetic diversity occurred within the breeds rather than between breeds or provinces. Regarding the global structure of the mtDNA diversity per population, a characteristic of the HG population was the occurrence of similar pattern distribution as compared to G. gallus spadiceus. However, there was no geographical evidence of gene flow between wild and domestic populations as observed when microsatellites were used.
In contrast to other chicken populations, the HG chicken population showed very high genetic diversity at both the nuclear and mitochondrial levels. Due to its past and recent history, this population accumulates a specific and rich gene pool highlighting its interest and the need for conservation.
PMCID: PMC2897773  PMID: 20565868
24.  Microsatellites reveal substantial among-population genetic differentiation and strong inbreeding in the relict fern Dryopteris aemula 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(1):149-155.
Background and Aims
A previous study detected no allozyme diversity in Iberian populations of the buckler-fern Dryopteris aemula. The use of a more sensitive marker, such as microsatellites, was thus needed to reveal the genetic diversity, breeding system and spatial genetic structure of this species in natural populations.
Eight microsatellite loci for D. aemula were developed and their cross-amplification with other ferns was tested. Five polymorphic loci were used to characterize the amount and distribution of genetic diversity of D. aemula in three populations from the Iberian Peninsula and one population from the Azores.
Key Results
Most microsatellite markers developed were transferable to taxa close to D. aemula. Overall genetic variation was low (HT = 0·447), but was higher in the Azorean population than in the Iberian populations of this species. Among-population genetic differentiation was high (FST = 0·520). All loci strongly departed from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. In the population where genetic structure was studied, no spatial autocorrelation was found in any distance class.
The higher genetic diversity observed in the Azorean population studied suggested a possible refugium in this region from which mainland Europe has been recolonized after the Pleistocene glaciations. High among-population genetic differentiation indicated restricted gene flow (i.e. lack of spore exchange) across the highly fragmented area occupied by D. aemula. The deviations from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium reflected strong inbreeding in D. aemula, a trait rarely observed in homosporous ferns. The absence of spatial genetic structure indicated effective spore dispersal over short distances. Additionally, the cross-amplification of some D. aemula microsatellites makes them suitable for use in other Dryopteris taxa.
PMCID: PMC2889802  PMID: 20495199
Cross-amplification; Dryopteris aemula; ferns; inbreeding; genetic bottleneck; glacial refugium; microsatellites; population differentiation; spatial genetic structure
25.  Prion Protein Gene Variability in Spanish Goats. Inference through Susceptibility to Classical Scrapie Strains and Pathogenic Distribution of Peripheral PrPsc 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61118.
Classical scrapie is a neurological disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) characterized by the accumulation of an abnormal, partially protease resistant prion protein (PrPsc) in the CNS and in some peripheral tissues in domestic small ruminants. Whereas the pathological changes and genetic susceptibility of ovine scrapie are well known, caprine scrapie has been less well studied. We report here a pathological study of 13 scrapie-affected goats diagnosed in Spain during the last 9 years. We used immunohistochemical and biochemical techniques to discriminate between classical and atypical scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). All the animals displayed PrPsc distribution patterns and western blot characteristics compatible with classical scrapie. In addition, we determined the complete open reading frame sequence of the PRNP in these scrapie-affected animals. The polymorphisms observed were compared with those of the herd mates (n = 665) and with the frequencies of healthy herds (n = 581) of native Spanish goats (Retinta, Pirenaica and Moncaina) and other worldwide breeds reared in Spain (Saanen, Alpine and crossbreed). In total, sixteen polymorphic sites were identified, including the known amino acid substitutions at codons G37V, G127S, M137I, I142M, H143R, R151H, R154H, R211Q, Q222K, G232W, and P240S, and new polymorphisms at codons G74D, M112T, R139S, L141F and Q215R. In addition, the known 42, 138 and 179 silent mutations were detected, and one new one is reported at codon 122. The genetic differences observed in the population studied have been attributed to breed and most of the novel polymorphic codons show frequencies lower than 5%. This work provides the first basis of polymorphic distribution of PRNP in native and worldwide goat breeds reared in Spain.
PMCID: PMC3620333  PMID: 23580248

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