Adaptive introgression from indicine cattle into white cattle breeds from Central Italy

Mario Barbato*, Frank Hailer, Maulik Upadhyay, Marcello Del Corvo, Licia Colli, Riccardo Negrini, Eui Soo Kim, Richard P.M.A. Crooijmans, Tad Sonstegard, Paolo Ajmone-Marsan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Cattle domestication occurred at least twice independently and gave rise to the modern taurine and indicine cattle breeds. European cattle diversity is generally dominated by taurine cattle, although elevated levels of indicine ancestry have been recorded in several breeds from southern Europe. Here we use genome-wide high-density SNP genotyping data to investigate the taurine and indicine ancestry in southern European cattle, based on a dataset comprising 508 individuals from 23 cattle breeds of taurine, indicine and mixed ancestry, including three breeds from Central Italy known to exhibit the highest levels of indicine introgression among southern European breeds. Based on local genomic ancestry analyses, we reconstruct taurine and indicine ancestry genome-wide and along chromosomes. We scrutinise local genomic introgression signals and identify genomic regions that have introgressed from indicine into taurine cattle under positive selection, harbouring genes with functions related to body size and feed efficiency. These findings suggest that indicine-derived traits helped enhance Central Italian cattle through adaptive introgression. The identified genes could provide genomic targets for selection for improved cattle performance. Our findings elucidate the key role of adaptive introgression in shaping the phenotypic features of modern cattle, aided by cultural and livestock exchange among historic human societies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1279
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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    Barbato, M., Hailer, F., Upadhyay, M., Del Corvo, M., Colli, L., Negrini, R., Kim, E. S., Crooijmans, R. P. M. A., Sonstegard, T., & Ajmone-Marsan, P. (2020). Adaptive introgression from indicine cattle into white cattle breeds from Central Italy. Scientific Reports, 10(1), [1279].