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Old World camels in a modern world ¿ a balancing act between conservation and genetic improvement

Burger P.A., Ciani E., Faye B.. 2019. Animal Genetics, 50 (6) : p. 598-612.

Old World camels have served humans in cross?continental caravans, transporting people and goods, connecting different cultures and providing milk, meat, wool and draught since their domestication around 3000¿6000 years ago. In a world of modern transport and fast connectivity, these beasts of burden seem to be out?dated. However, a growing demand for sustainable milk and meat production, especially in countries affected by climate change and increasing desertification, brings dromedaries (Camelus dromedarius) and Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus) back onstage and into the focus of animal breeders and scientists. In this review on the molecular genetics of these economically important species we give an overview about the evolutionary history, domestication and dispersal of Old World camels, whereas highlighting the need for conservation of wild two?humped camels (Camelus ferus) as an evolutionarily unique and highly endangered species. We provide cutting?edge information on the current molecular resources and on?going sequencing projects. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of balancing the need for improving camel production traits with maintaining the genetic diversity in two domestic species with specific physiological adaptation to a desert environment.

Mots-clés : production animale; amélioration génétique; conservation du matériel génétique; Évolution; domestication des animaux; dromadaire; chameau; camelus

Thématique : Taxonomie et géographie animales; Génétique et amélioration des animaux

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