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Breed demarcation and potential for breed allocation of horses assessed by microsatellite markers

Bjornstad, G., Roed, K.H.
Animal genetics 2001 v.32 no.2 pp. 59-65
horses, breed differences, horse breeds, microsatellite repeats, genetic markers, loci, alleles, phylogeny, genotype
Population demarcation of eight horse breeds was investigated using genotype information of 306 horses from 26 microsatellite loci. The breeds include the indigenous Norwegian breeds Fjord Horse, Nordland/Lyngen Horse, Dole Horse and Coldblooded Trotter together with Icelandic Horse, Shetland Pony, Standardbred and Thoroughbred. Both phylogenetic analysis and a maximum likelihood method were applied to examine the potential for breed allocation of individual animals. The phylogenetic analysis utilizing simple allele sharing statistics revealed clear demarcation among the breeds; 95% of the individuals clustered together with animals of the same breed in the phylogenetic tree. Even breeds with a short history of divergence like Dole Horse and Coldblooded Trotter formed distinct clusters. Implementing the maximum likelihood method allocated 96% of the individuals to their source population, applying an assignment stringency of a log of the odds ratio larger than 2. Lower allocation stringency assigned nearly all the horses. Only three individuals were wrongly allocated a breed by both methods. In conclusion, the study demonstrates clear distinction among horse breeds, and by combining the two assignment methods breed allocation could be determined for more than 99% of the individuals.