The Sorraia horse is a closed breed with reduced effective population size and considered in critical maintained risk status. The breed exists in 2 main breeding populations, one in Portugal and one in Germany, with a smaller population size. A set of 22 microsatellite loci was used to examine genetic diversity and structure of the Sorraia horse breed and to compare individual inbreeding coefficient F, estimated from pedigree data, with individual heterozygosity and mean d(2). The Sorraia horse shows lower levels of microsatellite diversity when compared with other horse breeds. Due to management strategies, there are clear differences in the genetic structure of the 2 main Sorraia horse populations. Individual heterozygosity was shown to be a good estimator, used together with or as an alternative to inbreeding coefficient, in predicting fitness and evaluating the inbreeding level of the Sorraia horse. The information gathered in this study, combined with information available from previous studies, offers an important and wide information base for the future development of an effective breeding management of the Sorraia horse in order to preserve this endangered breed.
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