The Lanyu pig is an indigenous breed from Lanyu Islet, located south-east of Taiwan, with phenotypic characteristics distinctive from other pig breeds in Asia and Europe. Based on geographic considerations, the Lanyu pig may have originated from mainland China, Austronesia or the Ryukyu Islands. In the present study, polymorphism of the mitochondrial DNA control region sequence was used to clarify phylogenetic relationships among two herds of Lanyu pigs imported before 1980 from Lanyu Islet into Taiwan and reared in isolation on two different farms. Two distinct mitochondrial control region haplotypes were found. The type I Lanyu sequence appeared independently as a unique clade different from Asian and European pig sequences, while the type II Lanyu sequence was clustered within the major Asian clade. The pairwise distances between the major Asian clade vs. the type I Lanyu and European clades were 0.01726 ± 0.00275 and 0.01975 ± 0.00212 changes per site respectively. Estimates of divergence time suggest that the type I Lanyu sequence split from the major Asian pig clade in prehistoric times. The type II Lanyu mtDNA shares a close genetic lineage with Japanese Satsuma and New Zealand Kune Kune mtDNA with pairwise distances of 0.00095 ± 0.00000 and 0.00192 ± 0.00000 respectively, indicating gene flow between Lanyu Islet, Japan and Oceania in recent times. Together these results indicate that the type I Lanyu pig has a genetic lineage separate from Asian-type pigs, while the type II Lanyu sequence may represent a more recent introgression of modern Asian pigs.
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