Genetic Variability and Population Structure in the Sardinian Anglo-Arab Horse
Department of Veterinary Medicine—Sportive Horse Research Center, University of Perugia, via S. Costanzo 4, 06123 Perugia, Italy
Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Perugia, Borgo XX Giugno, 74, 06121 Perugia, Italy
Department of Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology, University of Perugia, via Elce di Sotto, 8, 06123 Perugia, Italy
AGRIS, Servizio Ricerca Qualità e Valorizzazione delle Produzioni Equine, piazza D. Borgia, 4, 07014 Ozieri, Sassari, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 May 2020 / Revised: 4 June 2020 / Accepted: 9 June 2020 / Published: 11 June 2020
It is known that animal populations might be affected by bottleneck phenomena, which reduce genetic variability, increase inbreeding and consequentially reduce evolutionary potential. Pedigree completeness, genetic variability and population structure were analyzed in the Sardinian Anglo-Arab horse (SAA) breed, and the analyzed results were compared with three other Italian horse populations: Maremmano, Murgese and Bardigiano (reported in bibliography). In addition, the maternal lineage was analyzed through mitochondrial DNA in order to preserve and improve the breed. The estimated parameters suggest that the SAA breed is well managed, especially when considering the female lineage because it still conserves a high number of founder mares. The role of breeding programs in the conservation of genetic diversity is essential. In fact, a breeding program might lead to fast genetic progress; however, it might also lead to a high level of inbreeding and consequently to a genetic drift. Analyzing both these parameters and the additional use of mitochondrial DNA might be an effective tool not only to verify the success of a breeding program, but also to be helpful for breeders on planning effective mating programs.