On the origin and diversification of Podolian cattle breeds: testing scenarios of European colonization using genome-wide SNP data

Senczuk G., Mastrangelo S., Ajmone-Marsan P., Becskei Z., Colangelo P., Colli L., ...More

GENETICS SELECTION EVOLUTION, vol.53, no.1, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 53 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12711-021-00639-w
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, Geobase, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Eskisehir Osmangazi University Affiliated: No


Background During the Neolithic expansion, cattle accompanied humans and spread from their domestication centres to colonize the ancient world. In addition, European cattle occasionally intermingled with both indicine cattle and local aurochs resulting in an exclusive pattern of genetic diversity. Among the most ancient European cattle are breeds that belong to the so-called Podolian trunk, the history of which is still not well established. Here, we used genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data on 806 individuals belonging to 36 breeds to reconstruct the origin and diversification of Podolian cattle and to provide a reliable scenario of the European colonization, through an approximate Bayesian computation random forest (ABC-RF) approach. Results Our results indicate that European Podolian cattle display higher values of genetic diversity indices than both African taurine and Asian indicine breeds. Clustering analyses show that Podolian breeds share close genomic relationships, which suggests a likely common genetic ancestry. Among the simulated and tested scenarios of the colonization of Europe from taurine cattle, the greatest support was obtained for the model assuming at least two waves of diffusion. Time estimates are in line with an early migration from the domestication centre of non-Podolian taurine breeds followed by a secondary migration of Podolian breeds. The best fitting model also suggests that the Italian Podolian breeds are the result of admixture between different genomic pools. Conclusions This comprehensive dataset that includes most of the autochthonous cattle breeds belonging to the so-called Podolian trunk allowed us not only to shed light onto the origin and diversification of this group of cattle, but also to gain new insights into the diffusion of European cattle. The most well-supported scenario of colonization points to two main waves of migrations: with one that occurred alongside with the Neolithic human expansion and gave rise to the non-Podolian taurine breeds, and a more recent one that favoured the diffusion of European Podolian. In this process, we highlight the importance of both the Mediterranean and Danube routes in promoting European cattle colonization. Moreover, we identified admixture as a driver of diversification in Italy, which could represent a melting pot for Podolian cattle.