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South African Journal of Animal Science

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Genetic diversity in selected stud and commercial herds of the Afrikaner cattle breed

L Pienaar, JP Grobler, FWC Neser, MM Scholtz, H Swart, K Ehlers, M Marx

Abstract


The Afrikaner is one of three indigenous cattle breeds found in South Africa. Afrikaner cattle were originally extensively used for crossbreeding purposes and breed development. The objective of this study was to determine the genetic diversity of selected stud and commercial herds from the whole South African Afrikaner population, as well as to determine the genetic structure among these herds. Assignment methods (based on STRUCTURE software) revealed a real structure consisting of four genetic populations (K = 4). Estimates of genetic diversity did not support the hypothesis of significant loss of genetic diversity in any individual Afrikaner herd. Heterozygosity estimates ranged from 0.456 - 0.737 within individual populations, with an overall heterozygosity estimate of 0.568 for the Afrikaner breed. The average number of alleles per locus was regarded as being 2.67 - 7.78, with an average of 5.18 alleles per locus. It could be concluded that a moderate to high degree of variation is still present within the Afrikaner cattle breed, despite the recent decline in numbers of this indigenous breed.

Keywords: Bos taurus africanus, heterozygosity, inbreeding, microsatellite markers




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