Application of genomic estimation methods of inbreeding and population structure in an Arabian Horse Herd

Mohammed A. Al Abri, Uta König Von Borstel, Veronique Strecker, Samantha A. Brooks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Horse breeders rely heavily on pedigrees for identification of ancestry in breeding stock. Inaccurate pedigrees may erroneously assign individuals to false lineages or breed memberships resulting in wrong estimates of inbreeding and coancestry. Moreover, discrepancies in pedigree records can lead breeders seeking to limit inbreeding into making misguided breeding decisions. Genome-wide SNPs provide a quantitative tool to aid in the resolution of lineage assignments and the calculation of genomic measures of relatedness. The aim of this project was to pilot a comparison between pedigree and genomic relatedness and inbreeding measures in a herd of 36 pedigreed Egyptian Arabian horses genotyped using the Equine SNP70 platform (Geneseek, Inc.). Moreover, we sought to estimate the minimum number of markers sufficient for genomic inbreeding calculations. Pedigree inbreeding values were moderately correlated with genomic inbreeding values (r = 0.406), whereas genomic relationships and pedigree relationships have a high correlation (r = 0.77). Although first degree relationships were successfully reconstructed, more distant relationships were difficult to resolve. Multi-dimensional scaling and clustering analysis agreed with within-herd pedigree information. In comparing the herd to a reference sample of United States, Polish, and Egyptian Arabian horses, the herd's historically recorded Egyptian lineage was successfully recovered. We conclude that genomic estimates of inbreeding and relationships are superior to their pedigree counterparts. They can be thus utilized in conservation of valuable lines of livestock, and in breeds at risk for loss of genomic diversity. We also postulate a minimum of 2000 markers in linkage equilibrium to be used for inbreeding estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • ancestry
  • genetic structure
  • genomic inbreeding
  • genomic relationships
  • pedigree completeness index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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