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Quantifying diversity losses due to selection for scrapie resistance in three endangered Spanish sheep breeds using microsatellite information

Álvarez, I., Gutiérrez, J.P., Royo, L.J., Fernández, I., Goyache, F.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2009 v.91 no.2-4 pp. 172-178
sheep, scrapie, PrPSc proteins, disease resistance, disease control programs, rare breeds, sheep breeds, breed differences, genetic variation, gene frequency, animal breeding, genetic polymorphism, risk groups, males, females, genotype, microsatellite repeats, alleles
The effect of selection for scrapie resistance on genetic variability in three endangered Spanish sheep breeds (Colmenareña, Mallorquina and Rubia de El Molar) was studied using two different criteria for quantifying contributions to genetic variability: (a) molecular coancestry or genetic identity; and (b) average number of alleles per locus or allelic richness. A total of 236 (81 Colmenareña, 76 Mallorquina and 79 Rubia de El Molar) individuals were genotyped for the PrP gene and for 22 microsatellite markers. The analyses assumed a selective policy aimed at the elimination of the VRQ allele and the reduction of the frequency of the ARQ/ARQ genotype. These goals are approached by rejecting for breeding those individuals with the highest susceptibility for scrapie (risk groups R4 and R5) in a genetic scenario with no previous selection programmes considering the PrP gene polymorphism carried out. When all the individuals classified into risk groups R4 and R5 were removed from the dataset, the total molecular coancestry slightly increased in the Colmenareña breed illustrating that the carriers of undesirable PrP genotypes are not essential to maintain its overall gene diversity. When the allelic richness was considered, the removal of the R4 and R5 individuals gave high losses in the Rubia de El Molar breed. The analyses carried out considering the sex of the individuals informed that most increases in genetic identity in the Colmenareña breed resulted from the removal of the R4 and R5 males while in the Mallorquina breed resulted from the removal of the undesirable females. Losses of diversity in the Rubia de El Molar breed were basically independent of the sex of the individuals due to the balanced contributions to diversity of both sexes. As a general recommendation, not all the individuals of undesirable risk groups should be rejected for reproduction at the same time to avoid irretrievable loses of genetic diversity but according to the sex of the individuals.