The aim of this research was to study the genetic variability of two local chicken breeds (Ermellinata di Rovigo and Robusta Maculata) involved in a conservation programme, over a period of three years. Samples were collected in 2002 and in 2005 and analysed using 15 microsatellite markers. Obtained results evidenced that Robusta Maculata was genetically less variable than Ermellinata di Rovigo even after three years of conservation activities. During the studied period the observed heterozigosity was maintained and the excess of homozygous animals found in both breeds in 2002 was strongly reduced in 2005. These findings suggested that the conservation activities helped to overcome the probable presence of population substructures and to limit inbreeding. Moreover, this study evidenced the usefulness of microsatellite markers to monitor genetic diversity in conservation programmes for animal breeds.
Genetic variability, Conservation programme, Chicken.