Potential emigration of Siberian cattle germplasm on Chirikof Island, Alaska
Feral cattle residing in Chirikof Island, Alaska, are relatively distinct from breeds used in commercial production in North America. However, preliminary evidence suggested that they exhibit substantial genetic relationship with cattle from Yakutian region of Siberia. Thus, our objective was to further elucidate quantify the origins, admixture and divergence of the Chirikof Island cattle relative to cattle from Siberia and USA. Subject animals were genotyped at 15 microsatellite loci. Compared with Turano–Mongolian and North American cattle, Chirikof Island cattle had similar variation, with slightly less observed heterozygosity, fewer alleles per locus and a positive fixation index. Analysis of the genetic distances revealed two primary clusters; one that contained the North American breeds and the Kazakh White head, and a second that contained the Yakutian and Kalmyk breeds, and the Chirikof population. Thus, it is suggested that Chirikof Island cattle may be a composite of British breeds emanating from North America and Turano–Mongolian cattle. A potential founder effect, consistent with historical records of the Russian–American period, may contribute to the adaptation of the Chirikof Island cattle to their harsh high-latitude environment. Further study of adaptive mechanisms manifest by these cattle is warranted.
Keywordsadaptation agricultural history feral livestock genetic diversity microsatellites.
Funding by Academy of Finland for JK (the Arctic Ark-project, decision no. 286040) is appreciated.
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