Genetic Diversity of Indigenous Cattle Populations in Bhutan: Implications for Conservation

  • Dorji, T. (Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre, Ministry of Agriculture) ;
  • Hanotte, O. (International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)) ;
  • Arbenz, M. (Kyrgyz Swiss Agriculture Project) ;
  • Rege, J.E.O. (ILRI) ;
  • Roder, W. (Renewable Natural Resources Research Centre, Ministry of Agriculture)
  • Received : 2002.12.05
  • Accepted : 2003.03.24
  • Published : 2003.07.01


The Genetic diversity and relationship of native Siri (Bos indicus) cattle populations of Bhutan were evaluated using 20 microsatellite markers. A total of 120 Siri cattle were sampled and were grouped into four populations according to their geographical locations which were named Siri West, Siri South, Siri Central and Siri East cattle. For each, 30 individuals were sampled. In addition, 30 samples each of Indian Jaba (B. indicus), Tibetan Goleng (B. taurus), Nepal Hill cattle (B. indicus), Holstein Friesian (B.taurus) and Mithun (B. frontalis) were typed. The mean number of alleles per loci (MNA) and observed heterozygosity (Ho) were high in the Siri populations ($MNA=7.2{\pm}0.3$ to $8.9{\pm}0.5$ and $Ho=0.67{\pm}0.04$ to $0.73{\pm}0.03$). The smallest coefficient of genetic differentiation and genetic distance ($F_{ST}=0.015$ and $D_A=0.073$) were obtained between Siri West and Siri Central populations. Siri East population is genetically distinct from the other Siri populations being close to the Indian Jaba ($F_{ST}=0.024$ and $D_A=0.084$). A high bootstrap value of 96% supported the close relationship of Siri South, Siri Central and Siri West, while the relationship between Siri East and Jaba was also supported by a high bootstrap value (82%). Data from principal component analysis and individual assignment test were in concordance with the inference from genetic distance and differentiation. In conclusion we identified two separate Siri cattle populations in Bhutan at the genetic level. One population included Siri cattle sampled from the West, Central and South of the country and the other Siri cattle was sampled from the East of the country. We suggest that Siri cattle conservation program in Bhutan should focus on the former population as it has received less genetic influence from other cattle breeds.


Supported by : Medigenomix Laboratory Germany


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