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Genetics Selection Evolution

Open Access

The effects of selective breeding against scrapie susceptibility on the genetic variability of the Latxa Black-Faced sheep breed

  • Leopoldo Alfonso1Email author,
  • Analia Parada1,
  • Andrés Legarra2, 3,
  • Eva Ugarte2 and
  • Ana Arana1
Genetics Selection Evolution200638:495

Received: 9 November 2005

Accepted: 21 March 2006

Published: 6 September 2006


Breeding sheep populations for scrapie resistance could result in a loss of genetic variability. In this study, the effect on genetic variability of selection for increasing the ARR allele frequency was estimated in the Latxa breed. Two sources of information were used, pedigree and genetic polymorphisms (fifteen microsatellites). The results based on the genealogical information were conditioned by a low pedigree completeness level that revealed the interest of also using the information provided by the molecular markers. The overall results suggest that no great negative effect on genetic variability can be expected in the short time in the population analysed by selection of only ARR/ARR males. The estimated average relationship of ARR/ARR males with reproductive females was similar to that of all available males whatever its genotype: 0.010 vs. 0.012 for a genealogical relationship and 0.257 vs. 0.296 for molecular coancestry, respectively. However, selection of only ARR/ARR males implied important losses in founder animals (87 percent) and low frequency alleles (30 percent) in the ram population. The evaluation of mild selection strategies against scrapie susceptibility based on the use of some ARR heterozygous males was difficult because the genetic relationships estimated among animals differed when pedigree or molecular information was used, and the use of more molecular markers should be evaluated.


genetic variabilityscrapieManechLatxasheep

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Authors’ Affiliations

Departamento de Producción Agraria, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
NEIKER, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
Station d'amélioration génétique des animaux, INRA, Castanet-Tolosan, France


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2006