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Impacts of genetic drift and restricted gene flow in indigenous cattle breeds: evidence from the Jutland breed

  • A. Brüniche-Olsen (a1), P. Gravlund (a2) and E.D. Lorenzen (a3)


Indigenous cattle breeds represent a unique genetic resource, and understanding their variability, population structure and breeding units is important for their sustainable conservation. The endangered Jutland breed was widespread in Denmark in the eighteenth century, but decreased in population size following the introduction of modern farming. We investigated the impact of recent anthropogenic fragmentation of the breed by analysing 737-bp mitochondrial DNA and 23 microsatellites in 207 individuals. The results revealed the Jutland breed as a unique genetic entity with high levels of genetic diversity, and only limited introgression from other black-pied breeds. The data reflected the impacts of fragmentation and restricted gene flow in breeds with small segregated herds, and revealed the rapid differentiation of herds resulting from genetic drift. The application of a management strategy that conserves diversity and minimizes increase in inbreeding is important for the future conservation of the Jutland breed and other indigenous cattle breeds.

Les races de bétails indigènes representent une ressource génétique unique. Comprendre la variabilité génétique, la structure de la population et unités d'amelioration génétique est essentiel. La race Jutland, menacée aujourd'hui, était très répandue au Danemark durant le 18eme siècle avant de voir sa population décroitre suite a l'avènement des méthodes modernes d'agriculture. Nous avons etudiés l'impact de la fragmentation anthropogénique de cette race en analysant l'ADN mitochondrial (737-bp) et 23 microsatellites dans 207 individus. Les résultats dévoilent La race Jutland comme une entité génétique unique présentant une grande diversité, et montrent seulement une introgression limité d'autres races tachetés noires. Les données reflètent les impacts de la fragmentation et un flux de genes limite au sein des espèces avec de petits troupeaux issus d'une ségrégation et revèlent une differentiation rapide des troupeaux résultant de la dérive génétique. La mise en place d'une stratégie de management qui conserve la diversité et qui empêche les croisements est importante pour la conservation future de la race Jutland et des autres races de bétails indigènes.

Las razas indígenas del ganado representan un fuente única de recurso genético, la comprensión de su variabilidad, estructura de población, y de sus unidades de cría son importantes factores para sus conservación sostenible. La raza de ganado en peligro de extinción de Jutlandia se encontraba muy dispersa en Dinamarca en el siglo XVIII, pero disminuyó e tamaño tras la introducción de la agricultura moderna. En este estudio, se investigó el impacto antropogénico en la fragmentación de la raza usando el análisis de 737 pares de bases del ADN mitocondrial y 23 microsatélites en 207 animales. Los resultados muestran que la raza en Jutlandia contiene una entidad genética única con altos niveles de diversidad genética, y limitada solamente por la introgresión de otras razas comunes de ganado. Los datos reflejan el impacto de la fragmentación y el flujo genético en razas restringidas y separadas en pequeños rebaños; y pone en manifiesto la rápida diferenciación de los rebaños como resultado de la deriva genética. La aplicación de una estrategia de gestión que conserve la diversidad y evite la mezcla de razas es importante para la futura conservación de la raza de Jutlandia y otras razas de ganado indígenas.


Corresponding author

Correspondence to: A. Brüniche-Olsen, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia. email:


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