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https://doi.org/10.5713/ab.21.0459    [Accepted] Published online June 24, 2022.
Position of Hungarian Merino among other Merinos, within-breed genetic similarity network and markers associated with daily weight gain
Attila Zsolnai1,2,*  , István Egerszegi3  , László Rózsa4  , Dávid Mezőszentgyörgyi1  , István Anton1 
1Department of Animal Breeding, Institute of Animal Science, Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kaposvár Campus, Herceghalom, 2053, Hungary
2National Centre for Biodiversity and Gene Conservation, Gödöllő, 2100, Hungary
3Department of Animal Husbandry Technology and Animal Welfare, Institute of Animal Science, Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kaposvár Campus, Gödöllő, 2100, Hungary
4Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Georgikon Campus, Keszthely, 8360, Hungary
Correspondence:  Attila Zsolnai, Tel: +36-23-319-133, Fax: +36-23-319-133/120, Email: attila.zsolnai@gmail.com
Received: 7 October 2021   • Revised: 8 February 2022   • Accepted: 18 May 2022
In this study, we aimed to position the Hungarian Merino among other Merino-derived sheep breeds, explore the characteristics of our sampled animals' genetic similarity network within the breed, and highlight SNPs associated with daily weight-gain.
Hungarian Merino (n=138) was genotyped on Ovine SNP50 Bead Chip (Illumina, San Diego, CA) and positioned among 30 Merino and Merino-derived breeds (n=555). Population characteristics were obtained via PLINK, SVS, Admixture, and Treemix software, within-breed network was analysed with python networkx 2.3 library. Daily weight gain of Hungarian Merino was standardised to 60 days and was collected from the database of the Association of Hungarian Sheep and Goat Breeders. For the identification of loci associated with daily weight gain, a multi-locus mixed-model was used.
Supporting the breed's written history, the closest breeds to Hungarian Merino were Estremadura and Rambouillet (pairwise FST values are 0.035 and 0.036, respectively). Among Hungarian Merino, a highly centralised connectedness has been revealed by network analysis of pairwise values of identity-by-state, where the animal in the central node had a betweenness centrality value equal to 0.936. Probing of daily weight gain against the SNP data of Hungarian Merinos revealed five associated loci. Two of them, OAR8_17854216.1 and s42441.1 on chromosome 8 and 9 (-log10P>22, false discovery rate<5.5e-20) and one locus on chromosome 20, s28948.1 (-log10P=13.46, false discovery rate=4.1e-11), were close to the markers reported in other breeds concerning daily weight gain, six-month weight, and post-weaning gain.


The position of Hungarian Merino among other Merino breeds has been determined. We have described the similarity network of the individuals to be applied in breeding practices and highlighted several markers useful for elevating the daily weight gain of Hungarian Merino.
Keywords: Sheep; SNP; Position; Network; GWA; Weight Gain
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