The European continent encompasses about half the total number of horse breeds on the planet. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about a quarter of those breeds are currently endangered as they have been disused since the mechanization of farming and transportation, and have suffered massive losses during the first and second World Wars. These breeds were developed over long historical periods, in a variety of ecological and socio-cultural contexts. As such, they represent an invaluable component of our common genetic and cultural heritage and the living incarnation of European terroirs. Our proposal aims at undertaking the first genetic monitoring of ~120 endangered and autochthonous European breeds at a genome-wide level. Our extensive genetic dataset will enable a precise reconstruction of the horse breeding history in Europe, revealing the long-debated origins of iconic breeds and the genetic impact of different management strategies and environments. Additionally, it will open for an identification of breed-specific Ancestry Informative Markers and an estimation of key genetic parameters and population structure, allowing the development of informed conservation guidelines, aimed at maximizing the genetic potential of endangered breeds and minimizing mixing between breeds of unrelated history. Importantly, ENDANGEREDHORSES will showcase the potential of genome-wide approaches in helping preserve the genetic diversity of livestock resources, which is currently of concern for horses and all other domestic animals worldwide.
Field of science
- /humanities/history and archaeology/history
Call for proposal
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