Genetic origin of Arapawa sheep and adaptation to a feral lifestyle.
This work aimed to investigate the population history and patterns of genetic diversity present within the isolated population of New Zealand Arapawa sheep. In order to identify genetic regions associated with reversion to a feral lifestyle, a selection sweep analysis was performed comparing 40 Arapawas to related breeds using Wright's fixation index (FST). Comparisons were graphed as the moving average of 5 FST values. A threshold of 0.25 was used to identify significant regions; 8 genomic regions were identified for the Arapawa and Florida Gulf Coast Native, 9 for the Arapawa and Castellana and 3 for the Arapawa and Australian Merino breed pair comparisons. One region on chromosome 2 was identified in all three comparisons with two underlying genes, CFDP2 and NAB1. Other genes identified were RXFP2, IFT88, SLC9A3, HERC2, NIPA1, NIPA2 and DACH2. The current work confirms Arapawa sheep are an important reservoir of unique gene variants available to the New Zealand sheep industry.