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Estimates of effective population size and inbreeding in South African indigenous chicken populations: implications for the conservation of unique genetic resources

Estimates of effective population size and inbreeding in South African indigenous chicken populations: implications for the conservation of unique genetic resources

Tropical Animal Health and Production 48(5): 943-950

Conservation of locally adapted indigenous livestock breeds has become an important objective in sustainable animal breeding, as these breeds represent a unique genetic resource. Therefore, the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa initiated a conservation programme for four South African indigenous chicken breeds. The evaluation and monitoring of the genetic constitution of these conservation flocks is important for proper management of the conservation programme. Using molecular genetic analyses, the effective population sizes and relatedness of these conservation flocks were compared to village (field) chicken populations from which they were derived. Genetic diversity within and between these populations are further discussed within the context of population size. The conservation flocks for the respective breeds had relatively small effective population sizes (point estimate range 38.6-78.6) in comparison to the field populations (point estimate range 118.9-580.0). Furthermore, evidence supports a transient heterozygous excess, generally associated with the occurrence of a recent population bottleneck. Genetic diversity, as measured by the number of alleles, heterozygosity and information index, was also significantly reduced in the conservation flocks. The average relatedness amongst the conservation flocks was high, whilst it remained low for the field populations. There was also significant evidence for population differentiation between field and conservation populations. F st estimates for conservation flocks were moderate to high with a maximum reached between VD_C and VD_F (0.285). However, F st estimates for field population were excessively low between the NN_C and EC_F (0.007) and between EC_F and OV_F (0.009). The significant population differentiation of the conservation flocks from their geographically correlated field populations of origin is further supported by the analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA), with 10.51 % of genetic diversity ascribed to population differences within groups (F SC = 0.106). The results suggest that significant genetic erosion has occurred within the conservation flocks due to inbreeding, pronounced effects of random drift and selection. It might be necessary to introduce new breeding individuals from the respective field populations in order to increase the effective population sizes of the conservation flocks and counter the effects of genetic erosion.

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Accession: 057797608

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26984598

DOI: 10.1007/s11250-016-1030-9

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