Association of body shape with amount of Arabian genetic contribution in the Lipizzan horse
- 1Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Veterinary University Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1220 Vienna, Austria
- 2Department of Animal Husbandry, Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Slovakia
- 3independent researcher: Pöckau 41, 9601 Arnoldstein, Austria
Abstract. Crossbreeding between individuals of different breeds and introgression, the transfer of genes between breeds and/or populations mediated primarily by backcrossing, have been characteristic tools used in the refinement or optimisation of practical horse breeding. In this study we analysed the genetic contribution of the Arabian horse to the gene pool of the Lipizzan horse and its association with the overall type via shape regression analysis in 158 Lipizzan horses from the Austrian federal stud farm of Piber and the Spanish Riding School. Although crossbreeding with Arabian horses took place between 1776 and 1945, we found a significant association between Lipizzan body shape (p < 0.003) and individual coefficients of Arabian gene proportion, which varied from 21 to 29 %. In order to compare and interpret the estimated Lipizzan shape transitions from Iberian type towards the oriental type, we included a sample of 32 Shagya Arabians from the Slovak National stud farm Topol'ćianky. The estimated shape transitions in Lipizzans due to an increasing proportion of Arabian genes are similar to those we observed in the population comparison study of Lipizzan and Shagya Arabian horses. The main morphometric differences due to increasing Arabian genetic contributions in Lipizzans were found in the conformation of head, neck, withers, and legs. Although selection in the Austrian Lipizzan breed favours the Iberian type, Arabian shape characteristics are still present, indicating the segregation of Arabian founder haplotypes in the population. We also demonstrated that techniques of shape analysis are able to differentiate phenotypes associated with the gene pool and can be applied for phenotypic evaluation and prediction in crossbreeding programs.