Genetic diversity within and among four South European native horse breeds based on microsatellite DNA analysis: implications for conservation

J Hered. 2005 Nov-Dec;96(6):670-8. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esi123. Epub 2005 Nov 2.


In the present study, genetic analyses of diversity and differentiation were performed on four Basque-Navarrese semiferal native horse breeds. In total, 417 animals were genotyped for 12 microsatellite markers. Mean heterozygosity was higher than in other horse breeds, surely as a consequence of management. Although the population size of some of these breeds has declined appreciably in the past century, no genetic bottleneck was detected in any of the breeds, possibly because it was not narrow enough to be detectable. In the phylogenetic tree, the Jaca Navarra breed was very similar to the Pottoka, but appeared to stand in an intermediate position between this and the meat breeds. Assuming that Pottoka is the breed less affected by admixture, the others gradually distanced themselves from it through varying influences from outside breeds, among other factors. In a comparative study with other breeds, the French breeds Ardanais, Comtois, and Breton were the closest to the four native breeds. Three different approaches for evaluating the distribution of genetic diversity were applied. The high intrabreed variability of Euskal Herriko Mendiko Zaldia (EHMZ) was pointed out in these analyses. In our opinion, cultural, economic, and scientific factors should also be considered in the management of these horse breeds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Horses / genetics*
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Spain