Characterisation of genetic diversity in a large number of European pig populations has been undertaken with EC support. The populations sampled included local (rare) breeds, national varieties of the major international breeds, commercial lines and the Chinese Meishan breed. A second phase of the project will sample a further 50 Chinese breeds. Neutral genetic markers (AFLP and microsatellites), with individual or bulk typing, were used and compared.
DNA from 59 European pig populations was extracted on samples of about 50 individuals per population. Individuals were typed for 50 microsatellites and for 148 AFLP bands. A subset of 25 populations was typed for 20 microsatellites on pools of DNA. Allele frequencies were estimated by direct allele counting for the co-dominant markers. Frequencies of AFLP negative alleles (absent bands) were obtained by taking the square root of absent band frequencies. Within-breed variability was summarised using standard statistics: expected and observed heterozygosity, mean observed and effective numbers of alleles, and F statistics. Between-breed diversity analysis was based on a bootstrapped Neighbor-Joining (NJ) tree derived from Reynolds distances (DR). The standard distance of Nei (DS) was also calculated.