Genomic methods have proved to be important tools in the analysis of genetic diversity across the range of species and can be used to reveal processes underlying both short- and long-term evolutionary change. This study applied genomic methods to investigate population structure and inbreeding in a common UK dog breed, the Labrador Retriever.
We found substantial within-breed genetic differentiation, which was associated with the role of the dog (i.e. working, pet, show) and also with coat colour (i.e. black, yellow, brown). There was little evidence of geographical differentiation. Highly differentiated genomic regions contained genes and markers associated with skull shape, suggesting that at least some of the differentiation is related to human-imposed selection on this trait. We also found that the total length of homozygous segments (runs of homozygosity, ROHs) was highly correlated with inbreeding coefficient.
This study demonstrates that high-density genomic data can be used to quantify genetic diversity and to decipher demographic and selection processes. Analysis of genetically differentiated regions in the UK Labrador Retriever population suggests the possibility of human-imposed selection on craniofacial characteristics. The high correlation between estimates of inbreeding from genomic and pedigree data for this breed demonstrates that genomic approaches can be used to quantify inbreeding levels in dogs, which will be particularly useful where pedigree information is missing.
- Canine genetics
- Craniofacial morphology
- Genetic differentiation
- Population structure