World’s first genome study reveals amazing diversity among African cattle

April 28th, 2017 | by MuslimScience
World’s first genome study reveals amazing diversity among African cattle

The world’s first genome study of indigenous African cattle shed light on new genes, diversity and even adaptation to the eco-system.

The so-called “African Cattle Complex” is considered an asset of the Africa economy and society. Also  considered as walking larder, as a great source of food, milk, hides and manure. Cattle are also considered as status of power and status.

But the rich diversity of around 150 cattle breed facing many challenges like diseases, vector borne ailments, and climatic pressure.

Now, a team of international scientists led by Olivier Hanotte from the University of Nottingham have drafted the genomes of five important breeds of African cattle that revealed some amazing environmental adaptations, and new genetic makeup. The findings could help in better breeding future programs in the region.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia and Professor Heebal Kim from Seoul National University also played an important role in the genome mapping.

Scientists have selected the population from five different regions: N’Dama is West African Bull with tolerance to multiple infectious diseases, Ankole or Sanga is crossbreed between Zebu and Taurine cattle population with large horns, Boran and Kenana – both are humped Zebu – are popular for beef and dairy and Ogaden which is also a Zebu often lives in hot and dry areas.

The Cattle genome catalogue

In total, the team analysed DNA samples from 48 animals from the five population of cattle across Africa.

The study is the also the first ever catalogue of genetic diversity found in selected sub-Saharan African cattle. It shows that some cattle adopt the harsh environments by changing their genes over a period of time and the researchers successfully found the genetic reasons of this change. The team also revealed some new genes and their pathways involved in the adaptations.

However, many cattle are facing risk to the climatic changes and diseases. For instance, Sleeping sickness – an insect borne disease – is common in Africa. Some 60 million people and 50 million cattle are at risk from this disease. The genome draft will also help to fight with other ailments.

According to the researchers African cattle genome studied first time and the results will pave the better ways of breeding and crossbreeding to improve the cattle and resilience in sub-Saharan Africa.



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