This study aimed to investigate the genetic diversity in the Italian Heavy Horse Breed from pedigree and genomic data. Pedigree information for 64,917 individuals were used to assess inbreeding level, effective population size (Ne), and effective numbers of founders and ancestors (fa /fe). Genotypic information from SNP markers were available for 267 individuals of both sexes, and it allowed estimating genomic inbreeding in two methods (observed versus expected homozygosity and from ROH) to study the breed genomic structure and possible selection signatures. Pedigree and genomic inbreeding were greatly correlated (0.65 on average). The inbreeding trend increased over time, apart from periods in which the base population enlarged, when Ne increased also. Recent bottlenecks did not occur in the genome, as fa /fe have shown. The observed homozygosity results were on average lower than expected, which was probably due to the use of French Breton stallions to support the breed genetic variability. High homozygous regions suggested that inbreeding increased in different periods. Two subpopulations were distinguished, which was probably due to the different inclusion of French animals by breeders. Few selection signatures were found at the population level, with possible associations to disease resistance. The almost low inbreeding rate suggested that despite the small breed size, conservation actions are not yet required.
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