The genetic variation of Najdi, Harri and Awassi breeds of Saudi sheep prevailing in Raniah province of Makka district were assessed and compared to Sudanese Desert sheep using random amplified polymorphic DNA polymerase cahin reaction (RAPD-PCR) technique. Five primers successfully amplified distinguishable 40 bands with an average of 96% polymorphism revealing that Saudi sheep breeds possess the needed genetic variation required for further genetic improvement. The resulted dendrogram showed that, there are two main separate clades. The Desert sheep is genetically distant and appeared as out-group from the Saudi sheep breeds. The first main clade included all of the Najdi individuals and only two individuals from Harri breed. While, the second main clade comprised two subgroups, the first one included individuals from Harri breed and the second included both Harri and Awassi individuals. The cluster analysis shows that Najdi breed is genetically different from both Harri and Awassi and that some Harri individuals showed genetic closeness to Awassi. The present study will help to clarify the image of the genetic diversity of these local Saudi sheep breeds in Raniah province and should be followed by further studies using advanced DNA markers and all available breeds in the kingdom to get the precise estimation of the phylogeny of these local genetic resources.
Key words: Dendrogram, biodiversity, Sudanese sheep, random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD), Saudi sheep.
RAPD, Random amplified polymorphic DNA; PCR, polymerase chain reaction.