[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The domestication of livestock represented a crucial step in human history. By using endogenous retroviruses as genetic markers, we found that sheep differentiated on the basis of their "retrotype" and morphological traits dispersed across Eurasia and Africa via separate migratory episodes. Relicts of the first migrations include the Mouflon, as well as breeds previously recognized as "primitive" on the basis of their morphology, such as the Orkney, Soay, and the Nordic short-tailed sheep now confined to the periphery of northwest Europe. A later migratory episode, involving sheep with improved production traits, shaped the great majority of present-day breeds. The ability to differentiate genetically primitive sheep from more modern breeds provides valuable insights into the history of sheep domestication.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract
Gene frequencies of coat colour and horn types were assessed in 22 Nordic cattle breeds in a project aimed at establishing genetic profiles of the breeds under study. The coat colour loci yielding information on genetic variation were: extension, agouti, spotting, brindle, dun dilution and colour sided . The polled locus was assessed for two alleles. A profound variation between breeds was observed in the frequencies of both colour and horn alleles, with the older breeds generally showing greater variation in observed colour, horn types and segregating alleles than the modern breeds. The correspondence between the present genetic distance matrix and previous molecular marker distance matrices was low ( r = 0.08 – 0.12). The branching pattern of a neighbour-joining tree disagreed to some extent with the molecular data structure. The current data indicates that 70% of the total genetic variation could be explained by differences between the breeds, suggesting a much greater breed differentiation than typically found at protein and microsatellite loci. The marked differentiation of the cattle breeds and observed disagreements with the results from the previous molecular data in the topology of the phylogenetic trees are most likely a result of selection on phenotypic characters analysed in this study.