Microsatellite based genetic diversity and relationships among ten Creole and commercial cattle breeds raised in Brazil

Egito, Andréa A.; Paiva, Samuel R.; Albuquerque, Maria do Socorro M.; Mariante, Arthur S.; Almeida, Leonardo D.; Castro, Silvia R.; Grattapaglia, Dario
January 2007
BMC Genetics;2007, Vol. 8, p83
Academic Journal
Background: Brazil holds the largest commercial cattle populations worldwide. Local cattle breeds can be classified according to their origin, as exotic or Creole. Exotic breeds imported in the last 100 years, both zebuine and taurine, currently make up the bulk of the intensively managed populations. Locally adapted Creole breeds, originated from cattle introduced by the European conquerors derive from natural selection and events of breed admixture. While historical knowledge exists on the Brazilian Creole breeds very little is known on their genetic composition. The objective of this study was to assess the levels of genetic diversity, phylogenetic relationships and patterns of taurine/zebuine admixture among ten cattle breeds raised in Brazil. Results: Significant reduction of heterozygosity exists due both to within-population inbreeding and to breed differentiation in both subspecies (taurine and zebuine). For taurine breeds the number of markers that contribute to breed differentiation is larger than for zebuine. A consistently similar number of alleles was seen in both subspecies for all microsatellites. Four Creole breeds were the most genetically diverse followed by the zebuine breeds, the two specialized taurine breeds and the Creole Caracu. Pairwise genetic differentiation were all significant indicating that all breeds can be considered as genetically independent entities. A STRUCTURE based diagram indicated introgression of indicine genes in the local Creole breeds and suggested that occasional Creole introgression can be detected in some Zebuine animals. Conclusion: This study reports on a comprehensive study of the genetic structure and diversity of cattle breeds in Brazil. A significant amount of genetic variation is maintained in the local cattle populations. The genetic data show that Brazilian Creole breeds constitute an important and diverse reservoir of genetic diversity for bovine breeding and conservation. The genetic data was able to shed light on a number of issues related to the local breeds origin and structure. The Brazilian Creole breeds are all important and viable targets for conservation for they display peculiar traits both phenotypic and of cultural and historical nature that deserve conservation efforts.


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