Indigenous livestock genetic diversity is a treasure trove of environmental adaptation including climatic and parasitic diseases challenges. It is particularly true for the African continent with a North-South orientation, the equator at its middle and landscapes from below sea level to above 4000 meters asl. Combined with ancient trading networks linking the African civilisations to the Middle-East and Asia, the continent is now hosting a significant proportion of the diversity of our major domesticates (cattle, sheep, goat, chicken). Genetic characterisation of this adaptive diversity represents a critical entry point to respond to the urgent demand for improved livestock both regarding productivity and sustainability. Up to recently, such characterisation was a daunting task which required significant resources and time. Now it is facilitated through the use of new genomics approaches. Here, I will present some of our work in collaborations with institutions in Africa, Europe and Asia aiming to understand the unique adaptation of African livestock through the analysis of full genome sequencing information. I will mainly focus on two species, cattle and chicken. In cattle, I will present our latest findings for trypanotolerance and on climatic adaptation. In chicken, I will present a new approach for the identification of ecotypes, and its usefulness to identify candidate regions within the genome under selection to environmental parameters. Finally, I will introduce new avenues for the use of these findings in breeding improvement programs to maximise in the short-term the delivery of livestock genetic gain at smallholder farmer levels.
Hanotte, O. 2019. The genome landscape of African livestock adaptations to environmental challenges. Paper presented at the Seventh All Africa conference on Animal Agriculture, Accra, Ghana, 29 July-2 August 2019.