Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Refining the evolutionary tree of the horse Y chromosome

Bozlak, Elif; Radovic, Lara; Remer, Viktoria; Rigler, Doris; Allen, Lucy; Brem, Gottfried; Stalder, Gabrielle; Castaneda, Caitlin; Cothran, Gus; Raudsepp, Terje; Okuda, Yu; Moe, Kyaw Kyaw; Moe, Hla Hla; Kounnavongsa, Bounthavone; Keonouchanh, Soukanh; Van, Nguyen Huu; Vu, Van Hai; Shah, Manoj Kumar; Nishibori, Masahide; Kazymbet, Polat;
Show more authors


The Y chromosome carries information about the demography of paternal lineages, and thus, can prove invaluable for retracing both the evolutionary trajectory of wild animals and the breeding history of domesticates. In horses, the Y chromosome shows a limited, but highly informative, sequence diversity, supporting the increasing breeding influence of Oriental lineages during the last 1500 years. Here, we augment the primary horse Y-phylogeny, which is currently mainly based on modern horse breeds of economic interest, with haplotypes (HT) segregating in remote horse populations around the world. We analyze target enriched sequencing data of 5 Mb of the Y chromosome from 76 domestic males, together with 89 whole genome sequenced domestic males and five Przewalski's horses from previous studies. The resulting phylogeny comprises 153 HTs defined by 2966 variants and offers unprecedented resolution into the history of horse paternal lineages. It reveals the presence of a remarkable number of previously unknown haplogroups in Mongolian horses and insular populations. Phylogenetic placement of HTs retrieved from 163 archaeological specimens further indicates that most of the present-day Y-chromosomal variation evolved after the domestication process that started around 4200 years ago in the Western Eurasian steppes. Our comprehensive phylogeny significantly reduces ascertainment bias and constitutes a robust evolutionary framework for analyzing horse population dynamics and diversity.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2023, Volume: 13, number: 1, article number: 8954

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Genetics and Breeding
    Evolutionary Biology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)