Whole genome detection of signature of positive selection in African cattle reveals selection for thermotolerance

Mengistie Taye, Wonseok Lee, Kelsey Caetano-Anolles, Tadelle Dessie, Olivier Hanotte, Okeyo Ally Mwai, Stephen Kemp, Seoae Cho, Sung Jong Oh, Hak-Kyo Lee, Heebal Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As African indigenous cattle evolved in a hot tropical climate, they have developed an inherent thermotolerance; survival mechanisms include a light-colored and shiny coat, increased sweating, and cellular and molecular mechanisms to cope with high environmental temperature. Here, we report the positive selection signature of genes in African cattle breeds which contribute for their heat tolerance mechanisms. We compared the genomes of five indigenous African cattle breeds with the genomes of four commercial cattle breeds using cross-population composite likelihood ratio (XP-CLR) and cross-population extended haplotype homozygosity (XP-EHH) statistical methods. We identified 296 (XP-EHH) and 327 (XP-CLR) positively selected genes. Gene ontology analysis resulted in 41 biological process terms and six Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways. Several genes and pathways were found to be involved in oxidative stress response, osmotic stress response, heat shock response, hair and skin properties, sweat gland development and sweating, feed intake and metabolism, and reproduction functions. The genes and pathways identified directly or indirectly contribute to the superior heat tolerance mechanisms in African cattle populations. The result will improve our understanding of the biological mechanisms of heat tolerance in African cattle breeds and opens an avenue for further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1889-1901
JournalAnimal Science Journal
Issue number12
Early online date27 Jul 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2017


  • African cattle
  • positive selection
  • thermotolerance
  • XP-EHH


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