A recently published doctoral thesis by Christina Marie Rochus from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) sheds light on the population history and genetic diversity of diverse native Swedish sheep breeds.
Gutesheep. Photo taken by Stig Karlsson.
Genetic diversity and population structure of Swedish sheep breeds was studied using pedigree data and molecular genetic information.
Both pedigree information and microsatellite genotypes showed that inbreeding has been successfully managed in the ancient Gute sheep breed, despite it being a small local population.
The population structure of five Swedish sheep breeds was studied using endogenous retroviruses as molecular markers. Swedish Finewool, Gute, Klövsjö, Roslag and Värmland sheep all had a primitive retrotype at the highest frequency. In addition, Swedish Finewool, Gute, Roslag sheep had moderate frequencies of a retrotype indicating influence of modern sheep breeds.
Studying variants in two coat colour genes, ASIP and MC1R, and their association with black coat colour revealed different selection histories in the five Swedish sheep breeds studied.
High density SNP analysis showed that Dalapäls, Fjällnäs, Gotland, Gute and Klövsjö sheep were distinguishable and unique from one another and the individuals within each breed clustered closely together. When these breeds were compared with other European breeds and Southwest Asian breeds, they grouped with other north European short-tailed sheep breeds.
This thesis is invaluable to the characterization efforts of Nordic native breeds!
The complete thesis is available at http://pub.epsilon.slu.se/14322/.