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Journal of Integrative Agriculture
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Signatures of positive selection for local adaptation of African Native Cattle populations: a review
Wondossen AYALEW1, 2,  WU Xiao-yun1, Getinet Mekuriaw TAREKEGN3, 4, CHU Min1, LIANG Chun-nian1, Tesfaye SISAY TESSEMA3, YAN Ping1   

Key Laboratory of Animal Genetics and Breeding on Tibetan Plateau, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Key Laboratory of Yak Breeding Engineering, Lanzhou Institute of Husbandry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou 730050, P.R.China

Department of Animal Production and Technology, Wolkite University, Wolkite P.O. Box 07, Ethiopia

Institute of Biotechnology, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa P.O. Box 1176, Ethiopia

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Roslin Institute Building, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (UK)

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Cattle are central to the lives and diverse cultures of African people. It has played a crucial role in providing valuable protein for billions of households and sources of income and employment for producers and other actors in the livestock value chains. The long-term natural selection of African cattle typically signals signatures in the genome, contributes to high genetic differentiations across breeds. This has enabled them to develop unique adaptive traits to cope with inadequate feed supply, high temperatures, high internal and external parasites, and diseases. However, these unique cattle genetic resources are threatened by indiscriminate cross-breeding, breed replacements with exotic cosmopolitan  breeds, and climate change pressures. Although there are no functional genomics studies, recent advancements in genotyping and sequencing technologies have identified and annotated limited functional genes and causal variants associated with unique adaptive and economical traits of African cattle populations. These genome-wide variants serve as candidates for breed improvement and support conservation efforts for endangered cattle breeds against future climate changes. Therefore, this review plans to collate comprehensive information on the identified selection footprints to support genomic studies in African cattle to confirm the validity of the results and provide a framework for further genetic association and QTL fine mapping studies.

Keywords:  adaptive trait       African cattle              production traits              reproduction traits  
Online: 16 January 2023  

The authors are grateful for the financial support by the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (CAAS-ASTIP-2014-LIHPS-01), the China Agriculture Research System of MOF and MARA (CARS-37), the Foundation for Innovation, Groups of Basic Research in Gansu Province, China (20JR5RA580), and Project of Gansu Province (20YF8WA031) are duly acknowledged.

About author:  Correspondence Wondossen AYALEW, E-mail:; YAN Ping, E-mail:; WU Xiao-yun, E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Wondossen AYALEW, WU Xiao-yun, Getinet Mekuriaw TAREKEGN, CHU Min, LIANG Chun-nian, Tesfaye SISAY TESSEMA, YAN Ping . 2023. Signatures of positive selection for local adaptation of African Native Cattle populations: a review. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, Doi:10.1016/j.jia.2023.01.004

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