May 30, 2009

Multifaceted origin of cattle revealed by DNA (Achilli et al. 2009)

PLoS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005753

The Multifaceted Origin of Taurine Cattle Reflected by the Mitochondrial Genome

Alessandro Achilli et al.


A Neolithic domestication of taurine cattle in the Fertile Crescent from local aurochsen (Bos primigenius) is generally accepted, but a genetic contribution from European aurochsen has been proposed. Here we performed a survey of a large number of taurine cattle mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control regions from numerous European breeds confirming the overall clustering within haplogroups (T1, T2 and T3) of Near Eastern ancestry, but also identifying eight mtDNAs (1.3%) that did not fit in haplogroup T. Sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome showed that four mtDNAs formed a novel branch (haplogroup R) which, after the deep bifurcation that gave rise to the taurine and zebuine lineages, constitutes the earliest known split in the mtDNA phylogeny of B. primigenius. The remaining four mtDNAs were members of the recently discovered haplogroup Q. Phylogeographic data indicate that R mtDNAs were derived from female European aurochsen, possibly in the Italian Peninsula, and sporadically included in domestic herds. In contrast, the available data suggest that Q mtDNAs and T subclades were involved in the same Neolithic event of domestication in the Near East. Thus, the existence of novel (and rare) taurine haplogroups highlights a multifaceted genetic legacy from distinct B. primigenius populations. Taking into account that the maternally transmitted mtDNA tends to underestimate the extent of gene flow from European aurochsen, the detection of the R mtDNAs in autochthonous breeds, some of which are endangered, identifies an unexpected reservoir of genetic variation that should be carefully preserved.



Gioiello said...

Where there were aurochsen probably there were men, “possibly in the Italian Peninsula” say Achilli et alii. Possibly those men (R1b1b2?) were more bull-like than their “bullock”.

Anonymous said...

Most of the breeding of cattle whether of European aurochsen from Europe, haplogroups P and R, with Near Eastern cattle haplogroups Q and T was most probably done by Neolithic age men that is men carrying J2 and E1b1. After the Balkan area, Italy is most likely the next place where farming took root. According to the paradigm (the Paleolithic/Neolithic one) R1b men were still eating roots, shoots and leaves and hunting game including aurochsen for food not breeding them.

Gioiello said...

My response in another thread has been deleted, I don't understand why, but if you admit that R1b was the European (Italian?) haplogroup which took farming from J2 and E-V13 and expanded it to all Europe, for me is well.

eurologist said...

After the Balkan area, Italy is most likely the next place where farming took root.I think it is well documented that the northern route of farming (cattle, serials, and pottery) immediately spread from the Balkans along the Danube, and strong differences in culture as well as a stop in the spread of the Balkan cultures right there indicates local people (i.e., R1b and I) were the dominant carriers, there.

Italy on the other hand received agriculture/farming via the southern/Mediterranean route, including predominantly sheep, goats, and Mediterranean plants.

Not sure why the article seems to emphasize Italy. Why not Danubian aurochsen? My guess would be that cattle were brought in from the North, anyway.

Gioiello said...

I have always said: Italy or nearby. My theory of the Italian Refugium of R1b1b2 during the Younger Dryas presupposes a diffusion of this haplogroup to East during the Mesolithic.