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Molecular phylogeny and diversity of Myanmar and Bhutan mithun based on mtDNA sequences

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The mithun (Bos frontalis), synonymous with mithan and gayal, is considered to be a domesticated form of gaur (B. gaurus). However, there has been a controversy concerning its origin. In an effort to address this issue, the mitochondrial cytochrome b (cytb) genes of 20 mithun from Myanmar and 13 from Bhutan were sequenced to trace its maternal origin. Seven cytb haplotypes were found in the 33 mithun, and the phylogenetic tree for these haplotypes clearly showed three embranchments involving five gaur types, a B. indicus type, and a B. taurus type. Sixteen Myanmar and 12 Bhutan mithun had gaur haplotypes, while a B. indicus haplotype was found in three Myanmar and one Bhutan mithun. The B. taurus haplotype was detected in a single Myanmar animal. These results demonstrated that the principal maternal origin of mithun was gaur and suggested that it was directly domesticated from gaur. However, some introgression of domestic cattle existed in current mithun populations. The presence of cattle mtDNA raised the question of how many cattle nuclear genes might have been integrated into the gene pool of mithun.
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Keywords: Bos frontalis; gayal; mithun; mitochondrial DNA

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University, Chūō, Sagamihara 2: Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture, Thimphu, Bhutan 3: Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Yangon, Myanmar 4: Faculty of Agriculture, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima 5: Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima 6: Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Chikusa, Nagoya, Japan

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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