A genome-wide scan to detect signatures of recent selection in Australian Merino sheep

Document Type : Original Research Articles (Regular Papers)


1 Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, 76169-133, Iran.

2 Young Researchers Society, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran.

3 Honorary Associate, School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

4 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Yunnan Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Domestic Animals, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China.

5 Animal Genetic and Breeding Unit, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

6 School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

7 Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.


Domestication and selection are processes that conserve the pattern of genetic diversities between and within populations. Identification of genomic regions that are targets of selection for phenotypic traits is one of the main aims of research in animal genetics. An approach for identifying divergently selected regions of the genome is to compare FST values among loci to estimate the genetic variability between and within populations. In this study, a whole genome scan using the 50K Illumina Ovine SNP chip was performed in seventeen flocks of Australian Merino sheep (8 CRC flocks and 9 SG flocks). Population differentiation using FST in these flocks revealed seven genomic regions. These areas were located on chromosomes 2 (two region), 3, 6, 7, 16 and 26 (Wintheta> 0.15). In this study, a number of candidate genes associated with reproductive and growth traits were identified. Study of the reported QTLs in these regions of the ovine and bovine genomes also showed that they associated with important traits such as reproduction, carcass yield, growth and wool traits. Further validation studies of these regions can be used to identify the candidate genes for economically important traits in sheep breeds. The results also provided intuitions for further understanding of the genetic diversities among the Merino flocks.


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