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Anim Genet. 2006 Oct;37(5):475-81.

Marker-assisted conservation of European cattle breeds: An evaluation.


Two methods have been developed for the assessment of conservation priorities on the basis of molecular markers. According to the Weitzman approach, contributions to genetic diversity are derived from genetic distances between populations. Alternatively, diversity within and across populations is optimized by minimizing marker-estimated kinships. We have applied, for the first time, both methods to a comprehensive data set of 69 European cattle breeds, including all cosmopolitan breeds and several local breeds, for which genotypes of 30 microsatellite markers in 25-50 animals per breed have been obtained. Both methods were used to calculate the gain in diversity if a breed was added to a set of nine non-endangered breeds. Weitzman-derived diversities were confounded by genetic drift in isolated populations, which dominates the genetic distances but does not necessarily increase the conservation value of a breed. Marker-estimated kinships across populations were less disturbed by genetic drift than the Weitzman diversities and assigned high conservation values to Mediterranean breeds, which indeed have genetic histories that differ from the non-endangered breeds. Prospects and limitations of marker-assisted decisions on conservation priorities are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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