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Data from: Genetic homogenization of indigenous sheep breeds in Northwest Africa

Cite this dataset

Belabdi, Ibrahim et al. (2019). Data from: Genetic homogenization of indigenous sheep breeds in Northwest Africa [Dataset]. Dryad.


Northwest-African sheep represent an ideal case-study for assessing the potential impact of genetic homogenization as a threat to the future of traditional breeds that are adapted to local conditions. We studied ten Algerian and Moroccan breeds of sheep, including three transboundary breeds, distributed over a large part of the Maghreb region, which represents a geographically and historically coherent unit. Our analysis of the dataset that involved carrying out Genome-wide SNP genotyping, revealed a high level of homogenization (ADMIXTURE, NetView, fineSTRUCTURE and IBD segments analyses), in such a way that some breeds from different origins appeared genetically undistinguished: by grouping the eight most admixed populations, we obtained a mean global FST value of 0.0024. The sPCA analysis revealed that the major part of Morocco and the Northern part of Algeria were affected by the phenomenon, including most of the breeds considered. Unsupervised cross-breeding with the popular Ouled-Djellal breed was identified as a proximate cause of this homogenization. The issue of transboundary breeds was investigated, and the Hamra breed in particular was examined via ROH fragments analysis. Genetic diversity was considered in the light of historical archives and anthropological works. All of these elements taken together suggest that homogenization as a factor affecting the Maghrebin sheep stock, has been particularly significant over the last few decades, although this process probably started much earlier. In particular, we have identified the policies set by the French administration during the colonial period of the region’s history as a causal factor that probably contributed significantly to this process. The genetic homogenization that we have observed calls into question the integrity of the farm animal genomic resources represented by these local breeds, whose conservation is of critical importance to the future of the livestock sector.

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