An evaluation of the European pig diversity has been carried on by several countries, with the support of the European Union over the period of 1994 to 2000. This article presents an overview of the results of this investigation, focussing on two genetic marker techniques, namely microsatellites (MS) and amplification of fragment length polymorphism (AFLP). Nearly 200 loci were characterised on about 50 individuals from each of 59 to 71 breeds, according to the marker considered. The analysis of diversity, based on genetic distances, led to similar conclusions for the two marker types (MS and AFLP), in spite of a markedly lower total diversity of AFLP compared to MS. The analysis of the MS loci showed that the allelic diversity pattern among breeds was quasi-independent from the diversity pattern based on allele frequencies. Genetic distances showed no particular clustering of local with international breeds, confirming the genetic uniqueness of the European local breeds compared to mainstream international breeds. The taxonomy of the local breeds revealed a cluster of the Iberian type breeds, in contrast with a wider dispersal of the breeds from other countries. Phylogeny often disagreed with documented breeds’ history, showing the complex migration/admixture patterns which underlie the breeds’ relationships. Methodologies developed in this investigation as well as the database and the DNA depository created should provide support for further innovative research in the field of domestic animal diversity management
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