Assessment of genetic relationships among the Plateau Merino populations in China using microsatellite DNA markers

Assessment of genetic relationships among the Chinese Plateau Merino breeds was made by using microsatellite DNA markers for the purposes of understanding of their genetic background and providing basic information for supporting conservation of genetic resources and genetic improvement. 【Method】 Using 15 microsatellite DNA markers, the Gansu Alpine Merino and the Qinghai Merino populations were analyzed along with the other two foreign sheep breeds and seven indigenous Chinese sheep populations in order to examine their population genetic structure and differentiation. 【Result】 The phylogenetic analysis, principal component analysis and the Bayesian clustering approach were employed to analyse the data and it was observed that the 11 populations conld be divided into three genetic types. In particular, the Gansu Alpine Merino and Qinghai Merino formed a single cluster. 【Conclusion】 This study, using microsatellite DNA makers, reveals that the Gansu Alpine Merino and Qinghai Merino have a similar genetic background, in alignment with their breeding histories, thus they can be treated as a single genetic unit in future genetic resource conservation and improvement programs.