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A quasi-exclusive European ancestry in the senepol tropical cattle breed highlights the importance of the slick locus in tropical adaptation

Flori L., Gonzatti M., Thevenon S., Chantal I., Pinto J., Berthier D., Aso P.J., Gautier M.. 2012. PloS One, 7 (5) : 5 p..

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036133

Background: The Senepol cattle breed (SEN) was created in the early XXth century from a presumed cross between a European (EUT) breed (Red Poll) and a West African taurine (AFT) breed (N'Dama). Well adapted to tropical conditions, it is also believed trypanotolerant according to its putative AFT ancestry. However, such origins needed to be verified to define relevant husbandry practices and the genetic background underlying such adaptation needed to be characterized. Methodology/Principal Findings: We genotyped 153 SEN individuals on 47,365 SNPs and combined the resulting data with those available on 18 other populations representative of EUT, AFT and Zebu (ZEB) cattle. We found on average 89% EUT, 10.4% ZEB and 0.6% AFT ancestries in the SEN genome. We further looked for footprints of recent selection using standard tests based on the extent of haplotype homozygosity. We underlined i) three footprints on chromosome (BTA) 01, two of which are within or close to the polled locus underlying the absence of horns and ii) one footprint on BTA20 within the slick hair coat locus, involved in thermotolerance. Annotation of these regions allowed us to propose three candidate genes to explain the observed signals (TIAM1, GRIK1 and RAI14). Conclusions/Significance: Our results do not support the accepted concept about the AFT origin of SEN breed. Initial AFT ancestry (if any) might have been counter-selected in early generations due to breeding objectives oriented in particular toward meat production and hornless phenotype. Therefore, SEN animals are likely susceptible to African trypanosomes which questions the importation of SEN within the West African tsetse belt, as promoted by some breeding societies. Besides, our results revealed that SEN breed is predominantly a EUT breed well adapted to tropical conditions and confirmed the importance in thermotolerance of the slick locus.

Mots-clés : race (animal); bovin; zébu; phylogénie; génotype; amélioration des animaux; sélection; adaptation; zone tropicale; trypanosomose; venezuela (république bolivarienne du)

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