Mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequence variation in maternal lineages of Iranian native horses

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To understand the origin and genetic diversity of Iranian native horses, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) D-loop sequences were generated for 95 horses from five breeds sampled in eight geographical locations in Iran. Sequence analysis of a 247-bp segment revealed a total of 27 haplotypes with 38 polymorphic sites. Twelve of 19 mtDNA haplogroups were identified in the samples. The most common haplotypes were found within haplogroup X2. Within-population haplotype and nucleotide diversities of the five breeds ranged from 0.838 ± 0.056 to 0.974 ± 0.022 and 0.011 ± 0.002 to 0.021 ± 0.001 respectively, indicating a relatively high genetic diversity in Iranian horses. The identification of several ancient sequences common between the breeds suggests that the lineage of the majority of Iranian horse breeds is old and obviously originated from a vast number of mares. We found in all native Iranian horse breeds lineages of the haplogroups D and K, which is concordant with the previous findings of Asian origins of these haplogroups. The presence of haplotypes E and K in our study also is consistent with a geographical west–east direction of increasing frequency of these haplotypes and a genetic fusion in Iranian horse breeds.

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