Detecting Sex and Selection in Ancient Cattle Remains Using Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms
Sammanfattning: All contemporary taurine cattle originated some 10,000 years ago when their wild ancestor, the aurochs, was domesticated in the Near East. Although the aurochs was widespread also in Europe, there is no evidence for a local domestication. The aurochs has been extinct since 1627 and therefore little is known about its biology. Following domestication, cattle were selected for traits of interest to humans. All modern cattle breeds were developed in the 19th century and the only sources of information about prehistoric breeding practices, and breeds, come from a few ancient Roman Empire and medieval European written accounts.The aim for this thesis was to investigate the effects early selection may have had on the cattle genome and to investigate genetic variation in European aurochs. Using second-generation sequencing and coalescent simulation analyses of aurochs Y chromosomal DNA, I estimated effective population size to between 20,000-80,000 aurochs bulls, indicating that a large population was present when domestic cattle entered Europe. A Y chromosomal SNP revealed that the two male lineages present in modern cattle were also present in European aurochs, and that the frequency of these lineages in domestic cattle fluctuated over time. This indicates that cattle were mobile and that bottlenecks, possibly due to selective breeding, occurred. I used nuclear SNPs to trace genetic variation in North European cattle through time and show that when genetics is combined with archaeology and osteology, even small but notable changes in the use of cattle can be detected. There has been a significant decrease in genetic variation over time, with the most dramatic changes associated with the formation of breeds during the 19th century.
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