Apparently, the expansion of the dairy breeds have created, or largely maintained, a sharp genetic contrast of northern and southern Europe, which divides both France and Germany. It may be hypothesised that the northern landscapes, with large flat meadows, are suitable for large-scale farming with specialised dairy cattle (Niederungsvieh, lowland cattle), whilst the mixed-purpose or beef cattle (Höhenvieh, highland cattle) are better suited to the smaller farms and hilly regions of the south. However, it is also remarkable that in both France and Germany the bovine genetic boundary coincides with historic linguistic and cultural boundaries. In France, the Frankish invasion in the north created the difference between the northern langue d'oïl and the southern langue d'oc. The German language is still divided into the southern Hochdeutsch and northern Niederdeutsch dialects, which also correlates with the distribution of the Catholic and Protestant religions. On a larger scale, it is tempting to speculate that the difference between two types of European cattle reflects, and has even reinforced, the traditional and still visible contrast of Roman and Germanic Europe.UPDATE: I wish there'd be some data points for the vast area between Eastern Europe and Yakutia. There might be a simple (and recent) expalanation for why Northeastern Europe is mostly "green" and Yakutia "red", but it would be nice to have actual datapoints in the quadrilater between NE Europe ("green"), SW Asia (mostly "red"), S Asia (zebu "black") and Yakutia.
PLoS ONE 6(1): e15922. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015922
Dual Origins of Dairy Cattle Farming – Evidence from a Comprehensive Survey of European Y-Chromosomal Variation
Ceiridwen J. Edwards et al.
Diversity patterns of livestock species are informative to the history of agriculture and indicate uniqueness of breeds as relevant for conservation. So far, most studies on cattle have focused on mitochondrial and autosomal DNA variation. Previous studies of Y-chromosomal variation, with limited breed panels, identified two Bos taurus (taurine) haplogroups (Y1 and Y2; both composed of several haplotypes) and one Bos indicus (indicine/zebu) haplogroup (Y3), as well as a strong phylogeographic structuring of paternal lineages.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Haplogroup data were collected for 2087 animals from 138 breeds. For 111 breeds, these were resolved further by genotyping microsatellites INRA189 (10 alleles) and BM861 (2 alleles). European cattle carry exclusively taurine haplotypes, with the zebu Y-chromosomes having appreciable frequencies in Southwest Asian populations. Y1 is predominant in northern and north-western Europe, but is also observed in several Iberian breeds, as well as in Southwest Asia. A single Y1 haplotype is predominant in north-central Europe and a single Y2 haplotype in central Europe. In contrast, we found both Y1 and Y2 haplotypes in Britain, the Nordic region and Russia, with the highest Y-chromosomal diversity seen in the Iberian Peninsula.
We propose that the homogeneous Y1 and Y2 regions reflect founder effects associated with the development and expansion of two groups of dairy cattle, the pied or red breeds from the North Sea and Baltic coasts and the spotted, yellow or brown breeds from Switzerland, respectively. The present Y1-Y2 contrast in central Europe coincides with historic, linguistic, religious and cultural boundaries.