December 29, 2010

Aurochs mtDNA in Italian cattle

Aurochs fighting wolves by H. Harder
The same as Neanderthals did not completely go extinct but live in us (albeit in very small apportion), another magnificent creature from old also survived extinction by means of hybridization.

Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups known to be from ancient aurochs, whose last known representative died in 1627, have been discovered in Italian cattle, amounting to as much as 1.5% of the sampled individuals.

The lineages belong to three haplogroups: P, Q and R. P and Q had already been sequenced in pre-Neolithic European bovines (aurochs) but so far no P had been detected among modern cattle (in this case only one individual). A novel haplogroup, R, was also sequenced in several animals and, because of its even more archaic phylogeny, it is also believed to be an aurochs and not a domestic lineage.

Fig. 2 full Q, P and R sequences, including one from a British aurochs (18)

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