Whole genome characterization of autochthonous Bos taurus brachyceros and introduced Bos indicus indicus cattle breeds in Cameroon regarding their adaptive phenotypic traits and pathogen resistance
Background African indigenous taurine cattle display unique adaptive traits shaped by husbandry management, regional climate and exposure to endemic pathogens. They are less productive with respect to milk and meat production which has been associated with amongst others, small size, traditional beliefs, husbandry practices, limited feed resources, disease burden and lack of sustained breeding for trait improvement. This resulted in the severe dwindling of their population size rendering them vulnerable to extinction. The Namchi taurine cattle breed is referred to as [Namchi (Doayo)] and shows resistance traits against trypanosome infection and exposure to tick infestation. Nonetheless, the historically later introduced Zebu cattle are the main cattle breeds in Africa today, even though they suffer more from locally prevailing pathogens. By using a whole genome sequencing approach, we sequenced with high depth for the first time the genomes of five cattle breeds from Cameroon in order to provide a valuable genetic resource for future African cattle breeding: the Namchi, an endangered trypano-tolerant taurine breed, the Kapsiki, an indigenous trypano-susceptible taurine breed, and three Zebu (Bos indicus indicus) breeds: Ngaoundere Gudali, White Fulani and Red Fulani. Results Approximately 167 Gigabases of raw sequencing data were generated for each breed and mapped to the cattle reference genomes ARS-UCD1.2 and UMD3.1.The coverage was 103 to 140-fold when aligning the reads to ARS-UCD1.2 with an average mapping rate of ~ 99%, and 22 to 30-fold when aligning the reads to UMD3.1 with an average mapping rate of ~ 64%. The single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) obtained from analysis using the genome ARS-UCD1.2 were compared with reference genomes of European Bos taurus Holstein, the Asian Bos indicus Brahman, and the African trypanotolerant N’Dama breeds. A total of ~ 100 million (M) SNPs were identified and 7.7 M of those were breed-specific. An approximately 11.1 M constituted of small insertions and deletions. By using only breed-specific non-synonymous variants we identified genes as genetic signatures and associated Gene Ontology (GO) terms that could explain certain cattle-breed specific phenotypes such as increased tolerance against trypanosome parasites in the Namchi breed and heat tolerance in the Kapsiki breed. Phylogenetic analysis grouped, except for Namchi, the Bos taurus breeds Kapsiki, N’Dama and Holstein together while the B. indicus breeds White and Red Fulani, Gudali and Brahman clustered separately. The deviating result for Namchi indicates a hybrid status of the selected animal with a recent introgression of Zebu genes into its genome. Conclusions The findings provide the first comprehensive set of genome-wide variant data of the most important Cameroonian cattle breeds. The genomic data shall constitute a foundation for breed amelioration whilst exploiting the heritable traits and support conservation efforts for the endangered local cattle breeds.