Cytochrome bsequences of ancient cattle and wild ox support phylogenetic complexity in the ancient and modern bovine populations


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Abstract

SummaryMitochondrial DNA has been the traditional marker for the study of animal domestication, as its high mutation rate allows for the accumulation of molecular diversity within the time frame of domestic history. Additionally, it is exclusively maternally inherited and haplotypes become part of the domestic gene pool via actual capture of a female animal rather than by interbreeding with wild populations. Initial studies of British aurochs identified a haplogroup, designated P, which was found to be highly divergent from all known domestic haplotypes over the most variable portion of the D-loop. Additional analysis of a large and geographically representative sample of aurochs from northern and central Europe found an additional, separate aurochs haplotype, E. Until recently, the European aurochs appeared to have no matrilinear descendants among the publicly available modern cattle control regions sequenced; if aurochs mtDNA was incorporated into the domestic population, aurochs either formed a very small proportion of modern diversity or had been subsequently lost. However, a haplogroup P sequence has recently been found in a modern sample, along with a new divergent haplogroup called Q. Here we confirm the outlying status of the novel Q and E haplogroups and the modern P haplogroup sequence as a descendent of European aurochs, by retrieval and analysis of cytochrome b sequence data from twenty ancient wild and domesticated cattle archaeological samples.

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