Genetic diversity in past and present Swedish sheep

Last changed: 12 March 2018

We want to find out how much genetic variation there is in the Swedish breeds of sheep. Vi also want to compare sheep living today with sheep that lived in Sweden in the past.

By studying the sheep's DNA and pedigrees we can describe how much genetic variation that exists in different breeds of sheep in Sweden. We are also investigating which Swedish breeds of sheep that are most closely relaetd to each other and how closely related the Swedish breeds of sheep are with breeds of sheep in other countries. We have collected samples from more than 1,000 sheep in Sweden. Some of the samples have already been investigated using different methods, but it is an ongoing project and more samples will be investigated in the future. We will also investigate DNA from ancient archaeological samples and compare sheep living today and ancient sheep.

The breed we so far have studied in most detail is Gute sheep. We have shown that inbreeding is at a low and stable level and that the conservation programs seem to be successful.

Studies of endogenous retroviruses of the breeds Klövsjö sheep, Värmlands sheep, Swedish Finewool sheep, Gute sheep and Roslag sheep showed that they had characteristics of primitive breeds that came to Europe with the first wave of sheep migration.

We are currently analyzing data from the so-called SNP chip (hundreds of thousands of sites in sheep DNA) to get more detailed results of the sheep's variety and origin.


Funding: Kungliga skogs- och lantbruksakademien, Jordbruksverket samt Erik Philip-Sörensens stiftelse

Project leader: Anna M Johansson

Other researchers: Elisabeth Jonas, Christina Rochus

Time: The Project started in 2012 (do not have end date)