Genetic variability of camel (Camelus dromedarius) populations in Saudi Arabia based on microsatellites analysis
The genetic diversity and population genetic structure of dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) are poorly documented in Saudi Arabia. The present study was conducted to address some of these genetics using four Saudi Arabian camel populations namely; Magaheem (MG), Maghateer (MJ), Sofr (SO) and Shual (SH). Genomic DNA was extracted from the hair roots of 160 camels, 40 individuals from each population. Sixteen microsatellite markers were used to genotype these 160 camels. Out of these 16 markers, only microsatellite VOLP67 did not produce any polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicons. There were 139 alleles generated by the 15 microsatellites loci with a mean of 9.27 alleles per locus. Four of the microsatellites loci studied in MG, eight in MJ and six in both SO and SH were found to be deviated from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The fixation genetic indices (Fst) among the four populations were very low, ranging from 0.006 (between SH and SO) to 0.017 (between MG and MJ), indicating low population differentiation among the four Saudi camel populations. No significant heterozygote excess or bottleneck in most nearest past was detected in the four camel populations as indicated by sign, standardized differences and Wilcoxon tests, along with the normal L shaped distribution of mode-shift test. The present study showed that the microsatellite markers are powerful tools in breeding programs, although there is a need for applying more microsatellites in order to be able to discriminate fairly between camel populations of Saudi Arabia.
Keywords: Camels, Camelus dromedarius, microsatellite markers, Saudi Arabia, genetic variability