Candidate signatures of positive selection for environmental adaptation in indigenous African cattle: A review

Sumaya Kambal*, Abdulfatai Tijjani, Sabah A. E. Ibrahim, Mohamed‐Khair A. Ahmed, Joram M. Mwacharo, Olivier Hanotte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Environmental adaptation traits of indigenous African cattle are increasingly being investigated to respond to the need for sustainable livestock production in the context of unpredictable climatic changes. Several studies have highlighted genomic regions under positive selection probably associated with adaptation to environmental challenges (e.g. heat stress, trypanosomiasis, tick and tick‐borne diseases). However, little attention has focused on pinpointing the candidate causative variant(s) controlling the traits. This review compiled information from 22 studies on signatures of positive selection in indigenous African cattle breeds to identify regions under positive selection. We highlight some key candidate genome regions and genes of relevance to the challenges of living in extreme environments (high temperature, high altitude, high infectious disease prevalence). They include candidate genes involved in biological pathways relating to innate and adaptive immunity (e.g. BoLAs, SPAG11, IL1RL2 and GFI1B), heat stress (e.g. HSPs, SOD1 and PRLH) and hypoxia responses (e.g. BDNF and INPP4A). Notably, the highest numbers of candidate regions are found on BTA3, BTA5 and BTA7. They overlap with genes playing roles in several biological functions and pathways. These include but are not limited to growth and feed intake, cell stability, protein stability and sweat gland development. This review may further guide targeted genome studies aiming to assess the importance of candidate causative mutations, within regulatory and protein‐coding genome regions, to further understand the biological mechanisms underlying African cattle's unique adaption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-708
Number of pages20
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number6
Early online date11 Sept 2023
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 2023


  • candidate genes
  • indigenous livestock
  • selection sweeps
  • genome
  • Cattle/genetics
  • Heat-Shock Response
  • Animals
  • Genomics
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Genome


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