Said Ismael Ng'ang'a
Project title: Genomics of African Indigenous Cattle
Summary: Sub-Saharan Africa is home to a rich diversity of more than 150 cattle breeds, which have evolved through a complex history of artificial and natural selection, leading to resistance to harsh environmental conditions and bovine diseases, as well as a high fertility rate among these cattle. Many of these breeds are poorly understood and endangered, due to uncontrolled crossbreeding and replacement by exotic, yet ill-adapted western cattle breeds. With an increasing threat of climate change and mixing of stocks, the adaptive traits and unique phenotypes of the African cattle will be extremely important to maintain within these populations. There is now an urgent need to characterize the genomic diversity of the African cattle to avoid the permanent loss of these desirable traits. In this project, we will apply genomic methods to: 1) reconstruct the complex evolutionary pattern of African indigenous cattle, 2) quantify genome-wide diversity of African cattle populations, and 3) identify key genetic markers for diseases, fertility and adaptation to extreme climates in the genomes of specific populations. The discovered markers will be used to develop a genomic tool to pave way for future genetic selection of cattle in Africa.