Ancient wild ox genome reveals complex cow ancestry
The ancestry of domesticated cattle proves more complex than previously thought, reports a paper published in the open access journal Genome Biology.
The team of researchers discovered clear evidence of breeding between wild British aurochs and early domesticated cattle.
David MacHugh, senior author on the study from the School of Agriculture and Food Science at University College Dublin, said: “Our results show the ancestors of modern British and Irish breeds share more genetic similarities with this ancient specimen than other European cattle. This suggests that early British farmers may have restocked their domesticated herds with wild aurochs.” More.
Rob Sheldon writes,
What is being done in this paper is of greater significance than perhaps first appears. Bones of ancient animals (in this case a wild ox), are being exhumed and the DNA compared to modern animals. This technique is capable of reconstructing genetic history going back 20,000 to 200,000 years (though the more ancient numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.) In other words, historical science is not simply “reconstruction” from the present, but can actually be tested in exactly the same way as the present. This means we should not adopt, as Ken Ham suggests, a permanent divide between the historical and modern sciences. It also means that “recent evolution” is eminently testable.
Yes, testable. When evolution moves from theory (as in Darwinism) to history (as in evidence from genome mapping), we get information, not ideology. SeeWhat the fossils told us in their own words
Here’s the abstract:
Background: Domestication of the now-extinct wild aurochs, Bos primigenius, gave rise to the two major domestic extant cattle taxa, B. taurus and B. indicus. While previous genetic studies have shed some light on the evolutionary relationships between European aurochs and modern cattle, important questions remain unanswered, including the phylogenetic status of aurochs, whether gene flow from aurochs into early domestic populations occurred, and which genomic regions were subject to selection processes during and after domestication. Here, we address these questions using whole-genome sequencing data generated from an approximately 6,750-year-old British aurochs bone and genome sequence data from 81 additional cattle plus genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism data from a diverse panel of 1,225 modern animals.
Results: Phylogenomic analyses place the aurochs as a distinct outgroup to the domestic B. taurus lineage, supporting the predominant Near Eastern origin of European cattle. Conversely, traditional British and Irish breeds share more genetic variants with this aurochs specimen than other European populations, supporting localized gene flow from aurochs into the ancestors of modern British and Irish cattle, perhaps through purposeful restocking by early herders in Britain. Finally, the functions of genes showing evidence for positive selection in B. taurus are enriched for neurobiology, growth, metabolism and immunobiology, suggesting that these biological processes have been important in the domestication of cattle. Open access – Stephen D E Park, David A. Magee, Paul A. McGettigan, Matthew D. Teasdale, Ceiridwen J. Edwards, Amanda J. Lohan, Alison Murphy, Martin Braud, Mark T. Donoghue, Yuan Liu, Andrew T. Chamberlain, Kévin Rue-Albrecht, Steven Schroeder, Charles Spillane, Shuaishuai Tai, Daniel G. Bradley, Tad S. Sonstegard, Brendan J. Loftus, David E. MacHugh. Genome sequencing of the extinct Eurasian wild aurochs, Bos primigenius, illuminates the phylogeography and evolution of cattle. Genome Biology, 2015; 16 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13059-015-0790-2
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