An insight into population structure and gene flow within pure-bred cats



Investigation of genetic structure on the basis of pedigree information requires indicators adapted to the specific context of the populations studied. On the basis of pedigree-based estimates of diversity, we analysed genetic diversity, mating practices and gene flow among eight cat populations raised in France, five of them being single breeds and three consisting of breed groups with varieties that may interbreed. When computed on the basis of coancestry rate, effective population sizes ranged from 127 to 1406, while the contribution of founders from other breeds ranged from 0.7 to 16.4%. In the five breeds, FIS ranged between 0.96 and 1.83%, with this result being related to mating practices such as close inbreeding (on average 5% of individuals being inbred within two generations). Within the three groups of varieties studied, FIT ranged from 1.59 to 3%, while math formula values were estimated between 0.04 and 0.91%, which was linked to various amounts of gene exchanges between subpopulations at the parental level. The results indicate that cat breeds constitute populations submitted to low selection intensity, contrasting with relatively high individual inbreeding level caused by close inbreeding practices.