Zulu sheep are found mainly in the rural KwaZulu-Natal province and the numbers are declining due to indiscriminate inbreeding. There is thus a need for phenotypic and genetic characterisation as a first phase for planning conservation strategies. Zulu sheep populations sampled were from Makhathini research station (MS) (n=33), University of Zululand (UZ) (n=21), a community at KwaMthethwa (KM) (n=32) and from Msinga (EM) (n=33). One European breed Appen - ninica (AP) was used as out group. Microsatellite analysis using 29 microsatellite loci was used in this study. Among the Zulu sheep, the mean number of alleles per locus was the lowest (3.86) in UZ and the highest (6.24) was realised in EM. The mean values of observed and expected heterozygosity were 0.57 and 0.61, respectively. Neighbour-joining tree showed two main Zulu sheep clusters: the UZ, KM and MS sheep populations clustered together and the second cluster included only representatives from the EM population. The STRUCTURE analysis showed that KM, AP and EM were founded in separate clusters, whereas UZ and MS clustered together. The study demonstrated that there was a common origin of the population from the research stations (MS and UZ populations). It also demonstrated that the EM had a different history for the other three populations. This work suggests that exchange of rams could be useful in reducing inbreeding when considering conservation breeding programmes.
Genetic diversity in four populations of Nguni (Zulu) sheep assessed by microsatellite analysis / Kunene, N. W.; Ceccobelli, S.; Di Lorenzo, P.; Hlophe, S. R.; Bezuidenhout, C. C.; Lasagna, E.. - In: ITALIAN JOURNAL OF ANIMAL SCIENCE. - ISSN 1594-4077. - ELETTRONICO. - 13:(2014), pp. 76-82. [10.4081/ijas.2014.3083]