Conservation genetics of local and wild pig populations: insight in genetic diversity and demographic history

A limited number of highly productive populations has progressively led to many local breeds becoming endangered or extinct. Genetic characterization of the genetic resources is, thereby, needed to prevent further loss of genetic and cultural heritage. The aim of the study described in this thesis was to explore the genetic diversity and demographic history of local pig populations, and the applicability of the results for the long-term future conservation of livestock genetic resources.

Promotor prof.dr. MAM (Martien) Groenen
Copromotor dr ing. RPMA Crooijmans , dr ir HJWC Megens
Organisatie Wageningen University, Animal Breeding and Genetics

ma 4 november 2013 16:00 tot 17:30

Locatie Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen

In this thesis, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear genetic marker systems were used to explore the past demographic history and genetic diversity of domestic and wild pigs. A Bayesian phylogeographic analysis using mtDNA allowed the detection of past dispersal events of Sus scrofa across Eurasia. The SNP panel proved to be highly efficient for population structure analyses, as it was able to differentiate 13 European local breeds and correctly assigning the pigs to their population of origin as well as to identify pigs that have been recently crossed with other breeds.

High-density SNP data provide the most cost-effective marker system in conservation programs of local livestock populations.
J.M. (Juan) Herrero Medrano

The study of whole genome re-sequence data of local and commercial European breeds demonstrated that, despite the higher inbreeding observed in many local pigs, local pigs harbour different genomic variants that may represent a valuable genetic reservoir for the livestock breeding industry in the future. This thesis provides a benchmark to address rational management and exploitation of local genetic resources. Moreover, the large representation of pig populations, the choice of genetic marker systems and the approaches utilized may benefit future studies that aim to genetically characterize livestock populations.