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Genomic divergence in Swedish Warmblood horses selected for equestrian disciplines

Last changed: 08 July 2021
Horse eye

The equestrian sport horse Swedish Warmblood (SWB) originates from versatile cavalry horses. Most modern SWB breeders have specialized their breeding either towards show jumping or dressage disciplines. The aim of this study was to explore the genomic structure of SWB horses to evaluate the presence of genomic subpopulations, and to search for signatures of selection in subgroups of SWB with high or low breeding values (EBVs) for show jumping.

We analyzed high density genotype information from 380 SWB horses born in the period 2010–2011, and used Principal Coordinates Analysis and Discriminant Analysis of Principal Components to detect population stratification. Fixation index and Cross Population Extended Haplotype Homozygosity scores were used to scan the genome for potential signatures of selection.

In accordance with current breeding practice, this study highlights the development of two separate breed subpopulations with putative signatures of selection in eleven chromosomes. These regions involve genes with known function in, e.g., mentality, endogenous reward system, development of connective tissues and muscles, motor control, body growth and development. This study shows genetic divergence, due to specialization towards different disciplines in SWB horses. This latter evidence can be of interest for SWB and other horse studbooks encountering specialized breeding.

Link to publication 


Ablondi M, Eriksson S, Tetu S, Sabbioni A, Viklund Å, Mikko S. Genomic Divergence in Swedish Warmblood Horses Selected for Equestrian Disciplines. Genes (Basel). 2019 Nov 27;10(12):976.


Sofia Mikko
Researcher at the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics; SLU

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