© 2019 Stichting International Foundation for Animal Genetics The population of Spanish sheep has decreased from 24 to 15 million heads in the last 75 years due to multiple social and economic factors. Such a demographic reduction might have caused an increase in homozygosity and inbreeding, thus limiting the viability of local breeds with excellent adaptations to harsh ecosystems. The main goal of our study was to investigate the homozygosity patterns of 11 Spanish ovine breeds and to elucidate the relationship of these Spanish breeds with reference populations from Europe, Africa and the Near East. By using Ovine SNP50 BeadChip data retrieved from previous publications, we have found that the majority of studied Spanish ovine breeds have close genetic relatedness with other European populations; the one exception is the Canaria de Pelo breed, which is similar to North African breeds. Our analysis has also demonstrated that, with few exceptions, the genomes of Spanish sheep harbor fewer than 50 runs of homozygosity (ROH) with a total length of less than 350 Mb. Moreover, the frequencies of very long ROH (>30 Mb) are very low, and the inbreeding coefficients (FROH) are generally small (FROH < 0.10), ranging from 0.008 (Rasa Aragonesa) to 0.086 (Canaria de Pelo). The low levels of homozygosity observed in the 11 Spanish sheep under analysis might be due to their extensive management and the high number of small to medium farms.
- demographic history
- runs of homozygosity