Genetic similarity comparison between some Iranian and Middle Eastern sheep breeds using mitochondrial control region sequencing

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Aleppo, Syria


Sheep has been an essential source of food to the inhabitants of the Iranian plateau for centuries. Furthermore, this geographic area is considered the original place of sheep domestication. Phylogenetic studies are highly important in understanding the evolutionary relationships among species. This understanding assists in decision making and planning for genetic resources conservation programs. Analyzing sequences of mitochondrial genome regions provides more reliable evidence regarding the genetic diversity and evolutionary origin of the species, due to the high rate of mitochondrial genome evolution compared to the nucleus. The aim of this study was to use the sequence of mitochondrial control region to investigate the phylogenetic relationship and genetic distances between some domestic sheep breeds of Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. For this purpose, blood samples were collected from Zel, Dalagh, and Mehrabani sheep breeds. After DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was carried out using specific primers for the targeted mitochondrial genome. Then, PCR products were purified and a standard sequencing was performed. Sequences obtained from this study were compared with other (NCBI) registered sequences of Middle Eastern breeds. Analysis of phylogenetic tree of the main haplotypes of sheep revealed that Zel breed was grouped in the haplotype B with other thin-tailed breeds, such as Karayaka and Sakiz. On the other hand, Mehrabani sheep breed was placed in the haplotype A along with other Middle Eastern fat-tailed breeds such as Naeimi and Saidi. This study provided additional proof for the use of control region sequence as a precise method of genetic distance estimation among sheep breeds.


  1. Rafia P, Tarang A. Sequence variations of mitochondrial DNA displacement-loop in Iranian indigenous sheep breeds. Iran J Appl Anim Sci. 2016;6(2):363-8.
  2. Zamani P, Akhondi M, Mohammadabadi MR, Saki AA, Ershadi A, Banabazi MH, Abdolmohammadi AR. Genetic variation of Mehraban sheep using two intersimple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers. Afr. J. Biotechnol. 2011;10(10):1812-7.
  3. Meadows JR, Hiendleder S, Kijas JW. Haplogroup relationships between domestic and wild sheep resolved using a mitogenome panel. Heredity. 2011;106(4):700. DOI
  4. Saadat Nouri M, Siah Mansoor P. Principles of sheep keeping and breeding. Ashraf Publications; 1996
  5. Frankham R. Conservation of genetic diversity for animals. The proceedings of the 5th world congress on genetics Applied to livestock production, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada 1994;21: 385-392.
  6. Askari N, Mohamad Abadi M, Baghizadeh A. ISSR markers for assessing DNA polymorphism and genetic characterization of cattle, goat and sheep populations. Iran. J. Biotechnol. 2011;9(3):222-9
  7. Shojaei M, Mohamad Abadi M, Asadi Fozi M, Dayani O, Khezri A, Akhondi M. Association of growth trait and Leptin gene polymorphism in Kermani sheep. J. Mol. Cell Biol 2011;2(2):67-73. DOI
  8. Villalta M, Fernández-Silva P, Beltrán B, Enguita L, López-Pérez MJ, Montoya J. Molecular characterization and cloning of sheep mitochondrial DNA. Curr. Genet. 1992;21(3):235-40. DOI
  9. Brown WM, George M, Wilson AC. Rapid evolution of animal mitochondrial DNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 1979;76(4):1967-71. DOI
  10. Avise JC, Lansman RA, Shade RO. The use of restriction endonucleases to measure mitochondrial DNA sequence relatedness in natural populations. I. Population structure and evolution in the genus Peromyscus. Genetics. 1979;92(1):279-95.
  11. Abdullah T, Nassiri M, Safari O, Javadmanesh A. Genetic diversity for three populations of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) based on sequencing of mtDNA genes. Marsh Bulletin. 2019;14(1):1-10.
  12. Lalouei F, Rezvani GS, Pourkazemi M. Genetic variation of Barbus capito in the southern Caspian Sea by PCR-RFLP method. Iran. J. Fish. Sci. 2003;117-130.
  13. Saadatnooi MS. S. 1990. Sheep husbandry and management. Forth ed. Ashrafi publication, Tehran; 1990. P. 494.
  14. Porter V, Alderson L, Hall SJ, Sponenberg DP. Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding, 2 Volume Pack. Cabi; 2016.
  15. Kiyanzad MR, Panandam JM, Emamjomeh Kashan N, Jelan ZA, Dahlan I. Reproductive performance of three Iranian sheep breeds. Asian-australas. J. Anim. Sci. 2003;16(1):11-4. DOI
  16. Javanmanesh A, Nasiri MR, Azgandi M. Sequencing of HVR-III region of mtDNA in Iranian sheep breeds. Animal Science Research (Agricultural Knowledge). 2017;27(2):133-41.‎
  17. Bahri Binabaj F, Bihamta G, Pirkhezranian Z. Genetic Diversity and Phylogenetic Analysis of D-loop Region of mtDNA in Baluchi Sheep Breed. Iran J Anim Sci Res. 2017;10(1), 131-139. DOI
  18. Tapio M. Origin and maintenance of genetic diversity in northern European sheep. PhD dissertation, University of Oulu, Finland, 2006.
  19. Othman OE, Payet-Duprat N, Harkat S, Laoun A, Maftah A, Lafri M, Da Silva A. Sheep diversity of five Egyptian breeds: Genetic proximity revealed between desert breeds: Local sheep breeds diversity in Egypt. Small Rumin. Res. 2016;144:346-52. DOI
  20. Wood NJ, Phua SH. Variation in the control region sequence of the sheep mitochondrial genome. Anim. Genet. 1996;27(1):25-33. DOI
  21. Hiendleder S, Mainz K, Plante Y, Lewalski H. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA indicates that domestic sheep are derived from two different ancestral maternal sources: no evidence for contributions from urial and argali sheep. J. Hered. 1998;89(2):113-20. DOI