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Genetic diversity and admixture analysis of Sanfratellano and three other Italian horse breeds assessed by microsatellite markers

  • A. Zuccaro (a1), S. Bordonaro (a1), A. Criscione (a1), A. M. Guastella (a1), G. Perrotta (a2), M. Blasi (a2), G. D’Urso (a1) and D. Marletta (a1)...
Abstract

Sanfratellano is a native Sicilian horse breed, mainly reared in the north east of the Island, developed in the 19th century from local dams and sires with a restricted introgression of Oriental, African and, more recently, Maremmano stallions. In this study, the genetic relationships and admixture among Sanfratellano, the other two Sicilian autochthonous breeds and Maremmano breed were assessed using a set of microsatellites. The main goals were to infer the impact of Maremmano breed in the current Sanfratellano horse and to provide genetic information useful to improve the selection strategies of the Sanfratellano horse. The whole sample included 384 horses (238 Sanfratellano, 50 Sicilian Oriental Purebred, 30 Sicilian Indigenous and 66 Maremmano), chosen avoiding closely related animals. A total of 111 alleles from 11 microsatellite loci were detected, from four at HTG7 to 15 at ASB2 locus. The mean number of alleles was the lowest in Oriental Purebred (6.7), the highest in Sanfratellano (8.3). All the breeds showed a high level of gene diversity (He) ranging from 0.71 ± 0.04 in Sicilian Oriental Purebred to 0.81 ± 0.02 in Sicilian Indigenous. The genetic differentiation index was low; only about 6% of the diversity was found among breeds. Nei’s standards (DS) and Reynolds’ (DR) genetic distances reproduced the same population ranking. Individual genetic distances and admixture analysis revealed that: (a) nowadays Maremmano breed does not significantly influence the current Sanfratellano breed; (b) within Sanfratellano breed, it is possible to distinguish two well-defined groups with different proportions of Indigenous blood.

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Corresponding author
E-mail: d.marletta@unict.it
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