Species composition and environmental adaptation of indigenous Chinese cattle

Indigenous Chinese cattle combine taurine and indicine origins and occupy a broad range of different environments. By 50 K SNP genotyping we found a discontinuous distribution of taurine and indicine cattle ancestries with extremes of less than 10% indicine cattle in the north and more than 90% in the far south and southwest China. Model-based clustering and f4-statistics indicate introgression of both banteng and gayal into southern Chinese cattle while the sporadic yak influence in cattle in or near Tibetan area validate earlier findings of mitochondrial DNA analysis. Geographic patterns of taurine and indicine mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal DNA diversity largely agree with the autosomal cline. The geographic distribution of the genomic admixture of different bovine species is proposed to be the combined effect of prehistoric immigrations, gene flow, major rivers acting as genetic barriers, local breeding objectives and environmental adaptation. Whole-genome scan for genetic differentiation and association analyses with both environmental and morphological covariables are remarkably consistent with previous studies and identify a number of genes implicated in adaptation, which include TNFRSF19, RFX4, SP4 and several coat color genes. We propose indigenous Chinese cattle as a unique and informative resource for gene-level studies of climate adaptation in mammals.