Genetic diversity and population structure of domestic and wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L. 1758): A novel approach using BovineHD BeadChip

PLoS One. 2018 Nov 30;13(11):e0207944. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0207944. eCollection 2018.


Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L. 1758) are an essential element of the Russian Far North, providing a significant source of nutrition for the representatives of 18 ethnicities. The species has wild and domestic forms, which are in constant interaction. The aim of our study was to characterize the genetic structure of domestic and wild reindeer populations, using a genome-wide bovine genotyping array (BovineHD BeadChip). The wild reindeer samples were obtained from the western Taymyr Peninsula population and from the taiga and tundra populations in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). The domestic populations included the Evenk, Even, and Chukotka-Khargin breeds of Yakutia and the Nenets breed from the Nenets Autonomous district and Murmansk region. The level of genetic diversity was higher for the wild population. Analyzing Neighbor-Net tree, multidimensional scaling, and Structure results, we observed strong genetic population structure and clear differentiation between domestic and wild populations. All regional populations of domestic reindeer were clearly separated, while wild reindeer showed similar genetic backgrounds. Nevertheless, we found contrasting patterns in the genetic structure of the tundra and taiga reindeer, in accordance with their morphological and ecological differences. Thus, our study revealed a clear genetic differentiation between domestic and wild reindeer populations. It provides novel insights into the genetic diversity and structure of reindeer populations, to support resource utilization and aid in the development of genetic improvement strategies and conservation programs for this species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / genetics*
  • Animals, Wild / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genotype
  • Genotyping Techniques
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Reindeer / genetics*
  • Russia

Grant support

This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation within Projects no. 14-36-00039 (the studies of the Chukotka, the Even and the Evenk reindeer breeds) and no.16-16-10068 (the studies of the Nenets breed and wild reindeer populations). The URL is Grant receiver no. 14-36-00039 is Zinovieva NA. Grant receiver no.16-16-10068 is Kharzinova VR. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.