Genetic diversity within and between European pig breeds using microsatellite markers

M SanCristobal, C Chevalet, C S Haley, R Joosten, A P Rattink, B Harlizius, M A M Groenen, Y Amigues, M-Y Boscher, G Russell, A Law, R Davoli, V Russo, C Désautés, L Alderson, E Fimland, M Bagga, J V Delgado, J L Vega-Pla, A M MartinezM Ramos, P Glodek, J N Meyer, G C Gandini, D Matassino, G S Plastow, K W Siggens, G Laval, A L Archibald, D Milan, K Hammond, R Cardellino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An important prerequisite for a conservation programme is a comprehensive description of genetic diversity. The aim of this study was to use anonymous genetic markers to assess the between- and the within-population components of genetic diversity for European pig breeds at the scale of the whole continent using microsatellites. Fifty-eight European pig breeds and lines were analysed including local breeds, national varieties of international breeds and commercial lines. A sample of the Chinese Meishan breed was also included. Eleven additional breeds from a previous project were added for some analyses. Approximately 50 individuals per breed were genotyped for a maximum of 50 microsatellite loci. Substantial within-breed variability was observed, with the average expected heterozygosity and observed number of alleles per locus being 0.56 [range 0.43-0.68] and 4.5 respectively. Genotypic frequencies departed from Hardy-Weinberg expectations (P <0.01) in 15 European populations, with an excess of homozygotes in 12 of them. The European breeds were on average genetically very distinct, with a Wright F(ST) index value of 0.21. The Neighbour-Joining tree drawn from the Reynolds distances among the breeds showed that the national varieties of major breeds and the commercial lines were mostly clustered around their breeds of reference (Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace, Large White and Piétrain). In contrast, local breeds, with the exception of the Iberian breeds, exhibited a star-like topology. The results are discussed in the light of various forces, which may have driven the recent evolution of European pig breeds. This study has consequences for the interpretation of biodiversity results and will be of importance for future conservation programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-98
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Breeding
  • Europe
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Swine


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic diversity within and between European pig breeds using microsatellite markers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this