Genomic relatedness and diversity of Swedish native cattle breeds

Maulik Upadhyay, Susanne Eriksson*, Sofia Mikko, Erling Strandberg, Hans Stålhammar, Martien A.M. Groenen, Richard P.M.A. Crooijmans, Göran Andersson, Anna M. Johansson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Native cattle breeds are important genetic resources given their adaptation to the local environment in which they are bred. However, the widespread use of commercial cattle breeds has resulted in a marked reduction in population size of several native cattle breeds worldwide. Therefore, conservation management of native cattle breeds requires urgent attention to avoid their extinction. To this end, we genotyped nine Swedish native cattle breeds with genome-wide 150 K single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to investigate the level of genetic diversity and relatedness between these breeds. Results: We used various SNP-based approaches on this dataset to connect the demographic history with the genetic diversity and population structure of these Swedish cattle breeds. Our results suggest that the Väne and Ringamåla breeds originating from southern Sweden have experienced population isolation and have a low genetic diversity, whereas the Fjäll breed has a large founder population and a relatively high genetic diversity. Based on the shared ancestry and the constructed phylogenetic trees, we identified two major clusters in Swedish native cattle. In the first cluster, which includes Swedish mountain cattle breeds, there was little differentiation among the Fjäll, Fjällnära, Swedish Polled, and Bohus Polled breeds. The second cluster consists of breeds from southern Sweden: Väne, Ringamåla and Swedish Red. Interestingly, we also identified sub-structuring in the Fjällnära breed, which indicates different breeding practices on the farms that maintain this breed. Conclusions: This study represents the first comprehensive genome-wide analysis of the genetic relatedness and diversity in Swedish native cattle breeds. Our results show that different demographic patterns such as genetic isolation and cross-breeding have shaped the genomic diversity of Swedish native cattle breeds and that the Swedish mountain breeds have retained their authentic distinct gene pool without significant contribution from any of the other European cattle breeds that were included in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019


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