An assessment of the European pig diversity using molecular markers: partitioning of diversity among breeds

L. Ollivier, L. Alderson, G.C. Gandini, J.L. Foulley, C.S. Haley, R. Joosten, A.P. Rattink, B. Harlizius, M.A.M. Groenen

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic diversity within and between breeds (and lines) of pigs was investigated. The sample comprised 68 European domestic breeds (and lines), including 29 local breeds, 18 varieties of major international breeds, namely Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace, Large White and Piétrain, and 21 commercial lines either purebred or synthetic, to which the Chinese Meishan and a sample of European wild pig were added. On average 46 animals per breed were sampled (range 12–68). The genetic markers were microsatellites (50 loci) and AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism, 148 loci). The analysis of diversity showed that the local breeds accounted for 56% of the total European between-breed microsatellite diversity, and slightly less for AFLP, followed by commercial lines and international breeds. Conversely, the group of international breeds contributed most to within-breed diversity, followed by commercial lines and local breeds. Individual breed contributions to the overall European between- and within-breed diversity were estimated. The range in between-breed diversity contributions among the 68 breeds was 0.04–3.94% for microsatellites and 0.24–2.94% for AFLP. The within-breed diversity contributions varied very little for both types of markers, but microsatellite contributions were negatively correlated with the between-breed contributions, so care is needed in balancing the two types of contribution when making conservation decisions. By taking into account the risks of extinction of the 29 local breeds, a cryopreservation potential (priority) was estimated for each of them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-741
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • animal breeding
  • pigs
  • pig breeds
  • genetic diversity
  • genetic markers
  • microsatellites
  • molecular genetics
  • cryopreservation
  • crossbreds
  • conservation
  • extinction
  • breed differences
  • biodiversity
  • amplified fragment length polymorphism
  • subdivided populations
  • conservation genetics
  • livestock breeds
  • cattle breeds
  • management
  • distance
  • purposes
  • size


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