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History of Lipizzan horse maternal lines as revealed by mtDNA analysis

  • 1,
  • 2,
  • 1,
  • 3 and
  • 1Email author
Genetics Selection Evolution200234:635

  • Received: 26 November 2001
  • Accepted: 25 March 2002
  • Published:


Sequencing of the mtDNA control region (385 or 695 bp) of 212 Lipizzans from eight studs revealed 37 haplotypes. Distribution of haplotypes among studs was biased, including many private haplotypes but only one haplotype was present in all the studs. According to historical data, numerous Lipizzan maternal lines originating from founder mares of different breeds have been established during the breed's history, so the broad genetic base of the Lipizzan maternal lines was expected. A comparison of Lipizzan sequences with 136 sequences of domestic- and wild-horses from GenBank showed a clustering of Lipizzan haplotypes in the majority of haplotype subgroups present in other domestic horses. We assume that haplotypes identical to haplotypes of early domesticated horses can be found in several Lipizzan maternal lines as well as in other breeds. Therefore, domestic horses could arise either from a single large population or from several populations provided there were strong migrations during the early phase after domestication. A comparison of Lipizzan haplotypes with 56 maternal lines (according to the pedigrees) showed a disagreement of biological parentage with pedigree data for at least 11% of the Lipizzans. A distribution of haplotype-frequencies was unequal (0.2%–26%), mainly due to pedigree errors and haplotype sharing among founder mares.


  • Lipizzan horse
  • control region
  • origin
  • phylogeny
  • pedigree

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Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Animal Science, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Groblje 3, 1230 Domžale, Slovenia
Ludwig Boltzmann-Institut für immuno-, zyto- & molekulargenetische Forschung, Veterinårmedizinishe Universitåt Wien, Veterinårplatz 1, 1210 Wien, Austria
Department of Livestock Science, University of Agricultural Sciences, Gregor Mendel Strasse 33, 1180 Wien, Austria


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2002