Background Over the past 15 years, 300 out of 6000 breeds of all farm animal species identified by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have gone extinct. Among cattle, many Podolian breeds are seriously endangered in various European areas. Podolian cattle include a group of very ancient European breeds, phenotypically close to the aurochs ancestors (Bos primigenius). The aim of the present study was to assess the genetic diversity of Podolian breeds and to reconstruct their origin. Methodology The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control-regions of 18 Podolian breeds have been phylogenetically assessed. Nine non-Podolian breeds have been also included for comparison. Conclusion The overall analysis clearly highlights some peculiarities in the mtDNA gene pool of some Podolian breeds. In particular, a principal component analysis point to a genetic proximity between five breeds (Chianina, Marchigiana, Maremmana, Podolica Italiana and Romagnola) reared in Central Italy and the Turkish Grey. We here propose the suggestive hypothesis of a dual ancestral contribution to the present gene pool of Podolian breeds, one deriving from Eastern European cattle; the other arising from the arrival of Middle Eastern cattle into Central Italy through a different route, perhaps by sea, ferried by Etruscan boats. The historical migration of Podolian cattle from North Eastern Europe towards Italy has not cancelled the mtDNA footprints of this previous ancient migration.
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
- DNA, Mitochondrial
- Endangered Species
- Genomic Imprinting