Genomic variation across cervid species in respect to the estimation of red deer diversity

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The aim of this study was to assess the genetic variations and relationships across evolutionary related cervid species in order to estimate the genetic diversity of the Red deer population that inhabits the forest area in the south-western part of Slovakia. The study was based on the application of cross-species SNP genotyping. The genomic data were obtained from a total of 86 individuals representing six genera (Axis, Dama, Cervus, Alces, Rangifer, and Odocoileus) using Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip. From 38.85% of successfully genotyped loci up to 1,532 SNPs showed polymorphism and were informative for subsequent analyses of the diversity and interspecific genetic relationships. Generally, a good level of observed heterozygosity was found across all species. The value of FIS (0.23±0.13) signalised the increase of a homozygous proportion within them. The application of molecular variance analysis to the hierarchical population structure showed that most of the variation was conserved within separate species (96%). The performed diversity analysis of Slovak Red deer population and comparative analysis of their phylogenic relationships among subspecies from genus Cervus did not identify a remarkable loss of genetic variability. Also, were not identified any degree of admixture that could be due to the historical background of deer farming in Slovakia or reintroduction and hybridisation by other species from genus Cervus (C. canadensis, and C. nippon) which are the major risk of loss of autochthonous Red deer populations in many areas of Central Europe. The analysis of individual’s ancestry showed consistent results with patterns of evaluated group differentiations which means low migration rates among all species.

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Acta Veterinaria

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