Tracing the genetic roots of the indigenous White Park Cattle

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Abstract

The White Park Cattle (WPC) is an indigenous ancient breed from the British Isles which has a long-standing history in heroic sagas and documents. The WPC has retained many primitive traits, especially in their grazing behaviour and preferences. Altogether, the aura of this breed has led to much speculation surrounding its origin. In this study, we sequenced the mitogenomes from 27 WPC and three intronic fragments of genes from the Y chromosome of three bulls. We observed six novel mitogenomic lineages that have not been found in any other cattle breed so far. We found no evidence that the WPC is a descendant of a particular North or West European branch of aurochs. The WPC mitogenomes are grouped in the T3 cluster together with most other domestic breeds. Nevertheless, both molecular markers support the primitive position of the WPC within the taurine breeds.

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