Genetic diversity and conservation in a small endangered horse population
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The Old Kladruber horses arose in the 17th century as a breed used for ceremonial purposes. Currently, grey and black coat colour varieties exist as two sub-populations with different recent breeding history. As the population underwent historical bottlenecks and intensive inbreeding, loss of genetic variation is considered as the major threat. Therefore, genetic diversity in neutral and non-neutral molecular markers was examined in the current nucleus population. Fifty microsatellites, 13 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in immunity-related genes, three mutations in coat colour genes and one major histocompatibility (MHC-DRA) gene were studied for assessing genetic diversity after 15 years of conservation. The results were compared to values obtained in a similar study 13 years ago. The extent of genetic diversity of the current population was comparable to other breeds, despite its small size and isolation. The comparison between 1997 and 2010 did not show differences in the extent of genetic diversity and no loss of allele richness and/or heterozygosity was observed. Genetic differences identified between the black and grey sub-populations observed 13 years ago persisted. Deviations from the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium found in 19 microsatellite loci and in five SNP loci are probably due to selective breeding. No differences between neutral and immunity-related markers were found. No changes in the frequencies of markers associated with two diseases, melanoma and insect bite hypersensitivity, were observed, due probably to the short interval of time between comparisons. It, thus, seems that, despite its small size, previous bottlenecks and inbreeding, the molecular variation of Old Kladruber horses is comparable to other horse breeds and that the current breeding policy does not compromise genetic variation of this endangered population.
KeywordsGenetic diversity Old Kladruber horses Endangered horse breed Microsatellites Single nucleotide polymorphisms Immunity-related genes Conservation
This study was supported by the project of the National Agency for Agricultural Research of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic NAZV QH92277.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
The work performed complied with the current laws and ethical standards of the Czech Republic.
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