Ancient cattle genomics, origins, and rapid turnover in the Fertile Crescent

Marta Pereira Verdugo, Victoria E. Mullin, Amelie Scheu, Valeria Mattiangeli, Kevin G. Daly, Pierpaolo Maisano Delser, Andrew J. Hare, Joachim Burger, Matthew J. Collins, Ron Kehati, Paula Hesse, Deirdre Fulton, Eberhard W. Sauer, Fatemeh A. Mohaseb, Hossein Davoudi, Roya Khazaeli, Johanna Lhuillier, Claude Rapin, Saeed Ebrahimi, Mutalib KhasanovS. M. Farhad Vahidi, David E. MacHugh, Okan Ertuğrul, Chaido Koukouli-Chrysanthaki, Adamantios Sampson, George Kazantzis, Ioannis Kontopoulos, Jelena Bulatovic, Ivana Stojanović, Abdesalam Mikdad, Norbert Benecke, Jörg Linstädter, Mikhail Sablin, Robin Bendrey, Lionel Gourichon, Benjamin S. Arbuckle, Marjan Mashkour, David Orton, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Matthew D. Teasdale, Daniel G. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Genome-wide analysis of 67 ancient Near Eastern cattle, Bos taurus, remains reveals regional variation that has since been obscured by admixture in modern populations. Comparisons of genomes of early domestic cattle to their aurochs progenitors identify diverse origins with separate introgressions of wild stock. A later region-wide Bronze Age shift indicates rapid and widespread introgression of zebu, Bos indicus, from the Indus Valley. This process was likely stimulated at the onset of the current geological age, ~4.2 thousand years ago, by a widespread multicentury drought. In contrast to genome-wide admixture, mitochondrial DNA stasis supports that this introgression was male-driven, suggesting that selection of arid-adapted zebu bulls enhanced herd survival. This human-mediated migration of zebu-derived genetics has continued through millennia, altering tropical herding on each continent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-176
Number of pages4
Issue number6449
StatePublished - 12 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.


Supported by ERC Investigator grant 295729-CodeX. Additional support from Science Foundation Ireland Award 12/ERC/B2227, Trinseq and the SFI/HEA Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC). M.D.T. was partially supported by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship H2020-MSCA-IF-2016 747424 (SCRIBE). V.E.M. was partially supported by the NERC Grant NE/P012574/1. M.J.C. acknowledges support from DNRF128. P.M.D. was supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme “Uses of the Past” (CitiGen) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (649307).

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie ActionsH2020-MSCA-IF-2016 747424
Seventh Framework Programme649307, 747424, 295729
Natural Environment Research CouncilNE/P012574/1, DNRF128
Science Foundation Ireland12/ERC/B2227
Irish Centre for High-End Computing


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