Infoscience

Journal article

Characterizing neutral genomic diversity and selection signatures in indigenous populations of Moroccan goats (Capra hircus) using WGS data

Since the time of their domestication, goats (Capra hircus) have evolved in a large variety of locally adapted populations in response to different human and environmental pressures. In the present era, many indigenous populations are threatened with extinction due to their substitution by cosmopolitan breeds, while they might represent highly valuable genomic resources. It is thus crucial to characterize the neutral and adaptive genetic diversity of indigenous populations. A fine characterization of whole genome variation in farm animals is now possible by using new sequencing technologies. We sequenced the complete genome at 12X coverage of 44 goats geographically representative of the three phenotypically distinct indigenous populations in Morocco. The study of mitochondrial genomes showed a high diversity exclusively restricted to the haplogroup A. The 44 nuclear genomes showed a very high diversity (24 million variants) associated with low linkage disequilibrium. The overall genetic diversity was weakly structured according to geography and phenotypes. When looking for signals of positive selection in each population we identified many candidate genes, several of which gave insights into the metabolic pathways or biological processes involved in the adaptation to local conditions (e.g. panting in warm/desert conditions). This study highlights the interest of WGS data to characterize livestock genomic diversity. It illustrates the valuable genetic richness present in indigenous populations that have to be sustainably managed and may represent valuable genetic resources for the long-term preservation of the species.

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