Mitochondrial DNA lineages of Italian Giara and Sarcidano horses

L. Morelli, A. Useli, D. Sanna, M. Barbato, D. Contu, M. Pala, M. Cancedda, P. Francalacci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Giara and Sarcidano are 2 of the 15 extant native Italian horse breeds with limited dispersal capability that originated from a larger number of individuals. The 2 breeds live in two distinct isolated locations on the island of Sardinia. To determine the genetic structure and evolutionary history of these 2 Sardinian breeds, the first hypervariable segment of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was sequenced and analyzed in 40 Giara and Sarcidano horses and compared with publicly available mtDNA data from 43 Old World breeds. Fourdifferent analyses, including genetic distance, analysis of molecular variance, haplotype sharing, and clustering methods, were used to study the genetic relationships between the Sardinian and other horse breeds. The analyses yielded similar results, and the FST values indicated that a high percentage of the total genetic variation was explained by between-breed differences. Consistent with their distinct phenotypes and geographic isolation, the two Sardinian breeds were shown to consist of 2 distinct gene pools that had no gene flow between them. Giara horses were clearly separated from the other breeds examined and showed traces of ancient separation from horses of other breeds that share the same mitochondrial lineage. On the other hand, the data from the Sarcidano horses fit well with variation among breeds from the Iberian Peninsula and North-West Europe: genetic relationships among Sarcidano and the other breeds are consistent with the documented history of this breed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8241-8257
Number of pages17
JournalGenetics and Molecular Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2014


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