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Genetic diversity in Spanish donkey breeds using microsatellite DNA markers

Genetics Selection Evolution200133:433

  • Received: 27 November 2000
  • Accepted: 23 April 2001
  • Published:


Genetic diversity at 13 equine microsatellite loci was compared in five endangered Spanish donkey breeds: Andaluza, Catalana, Mallorquina, Encartaciones and Zamorano-Leonesa. All of the equine microsatellites used in this study were amplified and were polymorphic in the domestic donkey breeds with the exception of HMS1, which was monomorphic, and ASB2, which failed to amplify. Allele number, frequency distributions and mean heterozygosities were very similar among the Spanish donkey breeds. The unbiased expected heterozygosity (HE) over all the populations varied between 0.637 and 0.684 in this study. The low GST value showed that only 3.6% of the diversity was between breeds (P < 0.01). Significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were shown for a number of locus-population combinations, except HMS5 that showed agreement in all analysed populations. The cumulative exclusion probability (PE) was 0.999 in each breed, suggesting that the loci would be suitable for donkey parentage testing. The constructed dendrogram from the DA distance matrix showed little differentiation between Spanish breeds, but great differentiation between them and the Moroccan ass and also with the horse, used as an outgroup. These results confirm the potential use of equine microsatellite loci as a tool for genetic studies in domestic donkey populations, which could also be useful for conservation plans.


  • donkey
  • endangered breed
  • microsatellite
  • diversity
  • genetic variability

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Authors’ Affiliations

Unitat de Genètica i Millora Animal, Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Departamento de Producción Animal, Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, 4001-A, Venezuela
Servicio de Ganadería, Diputación Foral de Bizkaia, Avda. Lehendakari Aguirre, 9, 2°, 48014 Bilbao, Spain


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2001