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Data from: New World cattle show ancestry from multiple independent domestication events

Cite this dataset

McTavish, Emily Jane et al. (2015). Data from: New World cattle show ancestry from multiple independent domestication events [Dataset]. Dryad.


Previous archeological and genetic research has shown that modern cattle breeds are descended from multiple independent domestication events of the wild aurochs (Bos primigenius) about ten thousand years ago. Two primary areas of domestication in the Middle East/Europe and the Indian subcontinent resulted in taurine and indicine lines of cattle, respectively. American descendants of cattle brought by European explorers to the New World beginning in 1493 generally have been considered to belong to the taurine lineage. Our analyses of 54,609 single nucleotide polymorphisms show that these New World cattle breeds, as well as the many related breeds of cattle in southern Europe, actually exhibit ancestry from both the taurine and indicine lineages. In this study we show that although European cattle are largely descended from the taurine lineage, gene flow from the indicine lineage has contributed substantial genomic components to both southern European cattle breeds and their New World descendants. New World cattle breeds, such as Texas Longhorns, provide an opportunity to study global population structure and domestication in cattle. Following their introduction into the Americas in the late 1400s, semi-feral herds of cattle underwent between 80 and 200 generations of predominantly natural selection, as opposed to the human-mediated artificial selection of Old World breeding programs. Our analyses of global cattle breed population history show that the hybrid ancestry of New World breeds contributed genetic variation that likely facilitated the adaptation of these breeds to a novel environment.

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