Selection signatures in Shetland ponies

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Shetland ponies were selected for numerous traits including small stature, strength, hardiness and longevity. Despite the different selection criteria, Shetland ponies are well known for their small stature. We performed a selection signature analysis including genome-wide SNPs of 75 Shetland ponies and 76 large-sized horses. Based upon this dataset, we identified a selection signature on equine chromosome (ECA) 1 between 103.8 Mb and 108.5 Mb. A total of 33 annotated genes are located within this interval including the IGF1R gene at 104.2 Mb and the ADAMTS17 gene at 105.4 Mb. These two genes are well known to have a major impact on body height in numerous species including humans. Homozygosity mapping in the Shetland ponies identified a region with increased homozygosity between 107.4 Mb and 108.5 Mb. None of the annotated genes in this region have so far been associated with height. Thus, we cannot exclude the possibility that the identified selection signature on ECA1 is associated with some trait other than height, for which Shetland ponies were selected.

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