New insights into the origin and the genetic status of the Balkan donkey from Serbia
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Aleksić, J. M.
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The Balkan donkey (Equus asinus L.) is commonly regarded as a large-sized, unselected, unstructured and traditionally managed donkey breed. We assessed the current genetic status of the three largest E. asinus populations in the central Balkans (Serbia) by analysing the variability of nuclear microsatellites and the mitochondrial (mtDNA) control region of 77 and 49 individuals respectively. We further analysed our mtDNA dataset along with 209 published mtDNA sequences of ancient and modern individuals from 19 European and African populations to provide new insights into the origin and the history of the Balkan donkey. Serbian donkey populations are highly genetically diverse at both the nuclear and mtDNA levels despite severe population decline. Traditional Balkan donkeys in Serbia are rather heterogeneous; we found two groups of individuals with similar phenotypic features, somewhat distinct nuclear backgrounds and different proportions of mtDNA haplotypes belonging to matrilineal Cla...des 1 and 2. Another group, characterized by larger body size, different coat colour, distinct nuclear gene pool and predominantly Clade 2 haplotypes, was delineated as the Banat donkey breed. The maternal landscape of the large Balkan donkey population is highly heterogeneous and more complex than previously thought. Given the two independent domestication events in donkeys, multiple waves of introductions into the Balkans from Greece are hypothesized. Clade 2 donkeys probably appeared in Greece prior to those belonging to Clade 1, whereas expansion and diversification of Clade 1 donkeys within the Balkans predated that of Clade 2 donkeys.
Keywords:Equus asinus / the Balkans / genetic diversity / genetic structuring / mitochondrial control region / nuclear microsatellites / phylogeography
Source:Animal Genetics, 2017, 48, 5, 580-590
- Wiley, Hoboken