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Phylogenetic relationships of the Hucul horse from Romania inferred from mitochondrial D-loop variation


For instance, the H2 haplotype was shared between the Akhal Teke, Friesian and Caspian pony breeds.

S.E. Georgescu, M.A. Manea, A. Dudu and M. Costache
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biology,
University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
Corresponding authors: S.E. Georgescu / M. Costache
E-mail: /
Genet. Mol. Res. 10 (4): 4104-4113 (2011)
Genetics and Molecular Research , Published October 31, 2011

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The existence of the Hucul horse on Romanian territory has been documented from the very distant past; today Hucul is a unique breed that is part of the FAO Program for the Preservation of Animal Genetic Resources. We compared Hucul with several primitive European and Asiatic breeds in order to elucidate the origin of these horses.

We analyzed a 683-bp mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) D-loop fragment in a population of Hucul horses and compared the polymorphic sites with sequences from other primitive breeds, including Exmoor, Icelandic Pony, Sorraia, Przewalski Horse, Mongolian Wild Horse, Konik, and Shetland Pony, as well as with Arabian, Akhal Teke and Caspian Pony.

The sequences were truncated to 247 bp to accommodate short sequence data for the other species. Eighty horses were analyzed; 35 polymorphic sites representing 33 haplotypes were observed. The mean percentage of polymorphic sites was 14.2% for this mtDNA fragment.

A neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree was constructed based on Kimura two-parameter distances and the Network 3.111 software was used for phylogenetic analysis. The Hucul horse was classified separately from all other primitive breeds. It is possible that the Hucul horse is not part of the pony class, as it segregated apart from all primitive pony breeds.

We found multiple origins in the maternal lineage of domestic horse breeds and demonstrated the uniqueness of the Hucul breed; its origins remain unclear.

Key words: Hucul horse; Primitive; Mitochondrial DNA; Phylogeny

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