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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13(9), 11455-11470; doi:10.3390/ijms130911455
Published: 12 September 2012
Abstract: The Jinchuan yak is a new yak population identified in Sichuan, China. This population has a special anatomical characteristic: an additional pair of ribs compared with other yak breeds. The genetic structure of this population is unknown. In the present study, we investigated the maternal phylogeny of this special yak population using the mitochondrial DNA variation. A total of 23 Jinchuan yaks were sequenced for a 823-bp fragment of D-loop control region and three individuals were sequenced for the whole mtDNA genome with a length of 16,371-bp. To compare with the data from other yaks, we extracted sequence data from Genebank, including D-loop of 398 yaks (from 12 breeds) and 55 wild yaks, and whole mitochondrial genomes of 53 yaks (from 12 breeds) and 21 wild yaks. A total of 127 haplotypes were defined, based on the D-loop data. Thirteen haplotypes were defined from 23 mtDNA D-loop sequences of Jinchuan yaks, six of which were shared only by Jinchuan, and one was shared by Jinchuan and wild yaks. The Jinquan yaks were found to carry clades A and B from lineage I and clade C of lineage II, respectively. It was also suggested that the Jinchuan population has no distinct different phylogenetic relationship in maternal inheritance with other breeds of yak. The highly haplotype diversity of the Pali breed, Jinchuan population, Maiwa breed and Jiulong breed suggested that the yak was first domesticated from wild yaks in the middle Himalayan region and the northern Hengduan Mountains. The special anatomic characteristic that we found in the Jinchuan population needs further studies based on nuclear data.
The domestic yak (Bos grunniens) is the symbolic animal living in alpine climates (between 2000 to 5000 m) on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and adjacent highlands, such as Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States [1,2]. Few other domesticated animals could survive in such an environment. Over 95% of the yaks all over the world live in the QTP [2–4]. The yaks provide meat and milk, transportation, dung for fuel and hides for shelter. There are two major yak breeds that live in the Sichuan province of China: the valley-type Jiulong breed and the plateau grassland type Maiwa breed [2,3]. Recently, the Jinchuan yaks were observed in Maori and Akeli Village of Jinchuan County in Sichuan province. This region looks like an islet surrounded by high mountains and deep valleys (Figure 1). The geographic profile is latitudinal (101°40′E to 101°41′E) and longitudinal (31°32′N to 31°34′N). Compared with the valley type Jiulong breed and the plateau grassland type Maiwa breed, the Jinchuan yak has several special characteristics. First, recent investigation showed that 52% of Jinchuan yak individuals have 15 pairs of ribs while all other yaks have 14 pairs (Figure 2). Second, the reproductive rate of the Jinchuan yak (95%) is significantly higher than that of other breeds (70%~75%). Third, the Jinchuan yaks provide a better quality of milk and a higher yield of meat, and have a more powerful resistance to natural pressures. However, little investigation has been undertaken on the genetics of this population.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is maternally inherited and has been widely used in phylogenetic studies. In particular, the control region D-loop has the highest genetic variation on mtDNA and has been used to investigate the maternal phylogenetic relationships among mammals [5–10]. Tu et al. analyzed D-loop region in 21 yaks using RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms) and identified four haplotypes . Lai et al. found that the domestic yaks converged into two mainly phylogeny groups, based on the DNA sequences of D-loop region and cytochrome b . It was also found that there was no geographical differentiation between these two phylogeny groups. Similar results were observed in the other studies, based on mtDNA [13,14], blood protein electrophoresis , or nuclear microsatellite alleles . Whole mtDNA sequencing has been shown to be more powerful in mammal phylogenetic studies than single gene, or region or nuclear genes [3,17–26].
In the present study, we will investigate the genetic diversity of a special yak population, Jinchuan yak, and the phylogenetic relationship with other yak breeds using both control region and whole mtDNA sequencing data.
2. Results and Discussion
A fragment of 823 bp of the mtDNA control region was sequenced in 23 Jinchuan yaks. All of these sequences have been deposited in GenBank with the Accession numbers from JQ811490 to JQ811512. The whole mtDNA was sequenced in three Jinchuan yaks via six fragments, 2688 bp, 4190 bp, 3942 bp, 2798 bp, 3293 bp, and 3523 bp, respectively. The three assembled complete mtDNA sequences were deposited in GenBank with the accession numbers from JQ846020 to JQ846022.
2.1.1. Nucleotide and Haplotype Diversity
For the mtDNA control region, we also downloaded data of 398 yaks (from 12 breeds) and 55 wild yaks from Genebank. Together with the control region sequence data from the 23 Jinchuan yak individuals, a total of 476 sequences were obtained with 638 bp available on each sequence. Substitution analyses of these 476 sequences revealed 97 variable sites (Figure 3) and the global nucleotide diversity (Pi) was 0.01614 ± 0.00069. In total, 127 haplotypes were identified with a haplotype diversity (Hd) of 0.9280 ± 0.0083 (Table 1). In the 23 Jinchuan yak individuals, 33 nucleotide variants were observed and 13 haplotypes were identified. Thirty-two haplotypes were identified in the 55 wild individuals and only one haplotype was shared between Jinchuan and wild yaks. The Jinchuan yaks showed higher genetic diversity (Pi = 0.02035 ± 0.00225, Hd = 0.925 ± 0.035) than most other breeds including Tianzhu, Gannan, Datong, Huanhu, Plateau, Jali, Sibu, Pali, Maiwa, Jiulong and Bazhou, but a somewhat smaller genetic diversity than the Zhongdian yak (Pi = 0.02210 ± 0.00385, Hd = 0.917 ± 0.092) (Table 1).
Each of the mitochondrial genomic sequence was 16371 bp in length. For the 77 individuals (Table 1), 378 variable sites were identified with a nucleotide diversity (Pi) of 0.00319 ± 0.00027, from which 68 haplotypes were defined with a haplotype diversity (Hd) of 0.9945 ± 0.005.
The coding regions of complete mitochondrial sequences were also used for further analysis, and all the 13 protein-coding genes were employed except the ND6 gene because of the significant codon usage bias . The initiation and termination codons and overlapping regions between ATP6 and ATP8, ND4 and ND4L, and ND5 and ND6 were also excluded. The coding region of each mitochondrial genomic sequence was 10,710 bp in length and contained 3570 codons. In this data set, 228 nucleotide substitutions were identified, with a nucleotide diversity (Pi) of 0.00270 ± 0.00025 and 52 haplotypes were defined with a haplotype diversity (Hd) of 0.9450 ± 0.021, and three of them contain Jinchuan yak individuals.
2.2.2. Phylogenetic Analysis
184.108.40.206. Phylogeny Inferred from mtDNA Control Region
A neighbor-joining (NJ) tree based on the control region sequences showed that all the haplotypes fell into two distinct lineages (Figure 4). Lineage I diverged into clade A, B, E and Lineage II into clade C, D, F, G. Both lineages included the haplotypes of wild yak. The yak haplotypes were distributed randomly in the six clades (Figure 4). The Jinchuan yaks were found in the clade of A, B and C. Six Jinchuan haplotypes belonged to the clades of A and C. One haplotype in the clade of A was shared between Jinchuan, wild and domestic yaks. Five haplotypes (three in clade A, one in clade B and the other one in clade C) were shared between Jinchuan and other breeds of yak in the clade of A, B and C. Another haplotype in the clade C was only shared between Jinchuan and wild yaks (Table 2 and Figure 4).
For the mtDNA control region, the best model computed for Bayesian analysis was HKY + I + G, with a proportion of invariable sites of 0.7105 and a gamma distribution shape parameter of 0.7505. Bayesian analysis essentially produced the same topology as the previous analyses (NJ).
Median-joining network for the 128 haplotypes (including one bison haplotype) of mtDNA control region also revealed that all haplotypes of yaks converged into two genetic lineages (I and II), which diverged into seven clades (A–G) (Figure 5).
220.127.116.11. Phylogeny Inferred from Coding Regions of Mitochondrial Genomic Sequences
A neighbor-joining tree was constructed from the coding regions of mitochondrial genomic sequences for all domestic breeds and wild yaks, together with Bos taurus and Bos primigenius, with Bos indicus as the outgroup. All sequences again converged into two distinct lineages (Figure 6), comprising five clades (A–E). The Jinchuan yak haplotypes are in clades A and C, and the Jinchuan-specific haplotype belongs to clade C. One Jinchuan haplotype was located in clade A. This haplotype was also observed in other yaks, including 1 Pali, 1 Huanhu, 2 Tianzhu, 3 Ganlan, 1 Plateau, 1 Jiali, 2 Datong, 2 Maiwa and 1 Jiulong individual, together with 1 wild yak. Another haplotype in clade C was shared only by 1 Jinchuan yak and 1 wild yak. In this study, the Bison was found to be more closely related to yak than to other Bovid species. In addition, Bos taurus and Bos primigenius were clustered into the same clade and indicated the most closely related phylogeny (Figure 6).
Modeltest 3.7 showed that HKY+G was the best model computed for Bayesian analysis, with a proportion of invariable sites of 0 and a gamma distribution shape parameter of 0.0860. Again, Bayesian analysis produced approximately the same topology as the previous analyses (NJ).
We presented the nucleotide and haplotype diversity of the yaks by breed instead of administrative division [13,14], which may not represent the real environment conditions of each breed. The highest haplotype diversity was observed in Datong yak, which is a hybrid of wild and domestic yaks. Among those indigenous breeds, Pali, Jinchuan, Maiwa and Jiulong exhibited the highest haplotype diversity. On the other hand, Zhongdian showed the highest nucleotide diversity followed by Jinchuan, Sibu, Gannan and Maiwa. Both nucleotide and haplotype diversity indicated that the Pali, Jinchuan, Maiwa and Jiulong showed more extensive genetic diversity than any other yak in China. This is because the yaks with high haplotype diversity were distributed in the middle Himalayan region, and north of the Hengduan Mountains. Guo et al. and Savolainen et al. showed that haplotype and nucleotide diversity in the populations near to a center of initial origin was higher than in the populations derived through subsequent migration colonization [13,27]. Based on the results in the present study, the yak was probably first domesticated at these areas from wild yaks, and then extended north and west until the yaks distributed throughout the QTP of western China. This does not agree with the prediction by Wang et al. , that yaks were first domesticated in Qinghai and Tibet province in China.
Special anatomic characteristics were found in the Jinchuan population. Unfortunately, the analysis of the phylogeny did not show distinct differences between Jinchuan and other breeds and wild yaks as well. Nevertheless, six specific mtDNA haplotypes were observed among eight individuals. In addition, one haplotype was shared by one Jinchuan yak individual and four wild yak individuals. Thus, it could be hypothesized that the ancestor of the Jinchuan population in wild yaks before domestication was a special group with similar characteristics to the Jinchuan population at that time, and then some of this special group were caught and domesticated by the hunters. This hypothesis can be supported not only by the mitochondrial control region sequences, but also by the mtDNA coding region sequence.
Here, we also employed coding regions of mtDNA from bison, Bos taurue and Bos primigenous respectively to construct the phylogenetic tree. Tree topologies showed that yak have a closer relationship with bison and a more distant relationship with two other bovid species: Bos taurus and Bos primigenius. Therefore, we propose to include domestic and wild yak in a separate subgenus Poephagus instead of the genus Bos [2,12].
3. Experimental Section
3.1. Sample Collection and DNA Extraction
Blood samples of 23 yaks (Jinchuan yak population) were collected from Reta village of Jinchuan county, Sichuan province and taken back to the lab, and maintained at −70 °C. Genomic DNA was extracted from blood using the standard extraction kit according to the manual of the TIANamp Blood DNA Kit (Tiangen, Beijing, China).
3.2. PCR Amplification and Sequencing
The fragment of the mtDNA control region of each sample was amplified by PCR using the primers we designed from the mtDNA genome of Bos grunniens (GenBank Accession No. GQ464314): F (5′-GTAAAGAGCCTCACCAGTAT-3′) and R (5′-GTCGGGAGACTCATCTAGGC-3′). PCR amplifications were carried out in a 50 μL reaction mixture containing 200 ng of genomic DNA, each primer (2 μL of a 10 μM solution), dNTPs (4 μL of a 2.5 mM solution), 5 μL of 10× Ex Taq buffer and 0.4 μL of 5 U μL−1 Ex Taq DNA polymerase (TaKaRa, Dalian, China). The PCR program, run in a Mastercycler pro, Thermal Cyclers (Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany), consisted of an initial denaturing at 95 °C for 4min, followed by 35 cycles of 55 s at 95 °C, 55 s at 50 °C, 55 s at 72 °C, and a final 5 min extension at 72 °C. For complete mitochondrial sequencing, mitochondrial DNA fragments were amplified using a long and accurate-polymerase chain reaction (LA-PCR) kit (Takara, Dalian, China) and it was amplified using the primers and methods described by Wang et al. (2010) . PCR products were purified using an AxyPrepTM DNA Gel Extraction Kit (Axygen, Union City, CA, USA) and sequenced on an ABI 3730xl automated sequencer at Invitrogen, Shanghai. Both strands of the PCR products of the fragment of the mtDNA control region were completely sequenced. The primers were used for sequencing complete mitochondrial data as shown in Table 3. All results were assembled by the program DNAman and manually to a continuous sequence.
3.3. Nucleotide and Haplotype Diversity
All the sequences of mtDNA control region and complete mitochondrial data from the Jinchuan population and GenBank (Accession No. of 453 mtDNA control region sequences were FJ548840 to FJ548845, GQ464116 to GQ464245, DQ856602 to DQ856604, DQ856594 to DQ856600, DQ138998 to DQ139260, DQ007210 to DQ007224, AY521137 to AY521161, AY722118, AY749414, AY374125, AF083355 and 74 complete mitochondrial sequences were GQ464246 to GQ464314, NC_006380, EF494179, EF494178, EF494177, AY684273.) were aligned using the ClustalX program . Nucleotide variable sites of nucleotide substitution were explored by MEGA Version 4.0 . Nucleotide diversity (Pi) and haplotype diversity (Hd) for all yaks were performed in DnaSP Version 5.0 .
3.4. Phylogenetic Analysis
Neighbor-joining (NJ) trees [31,32] of all the haplotypes for mtDNA control region and complete mitochondrial were constructed based on a Kimura 2-parameter model in MEGA Version 4.0, with the reliability of the tree topology assessed by 1000 replications. Bootstrap consensus tree was selected with hidden values lower than 50%.
The Bayesian analyses were also carried out for phylogenetic analyses. The program Modeltest  was utilized to find the model of sequence evolution that best fit data set by the hierarchical likelihood ratio test (hRLTs), though the Bayesian information criterion (BIC) proved to be best for model selection , in order to compare the result of phylogenetic inference with Wang et al. (2010), we still use hRLTs for model selection . The best suggested model was subsequently used for Bayesian analysis in MrBayes 3.1 . The tree-space was explored by four chains over 10 million generations with a sampling frequency of every 1000th generation. Independent runs were considered converged with a standard deviation of split frequencies of lower than 0.01 and potential scale reduction factor (PSRF) of 1.0 for all parameters. We obtained 10,000 trees, fixing the burn-in value at 25%. The first 2.5 million generations of both runs were discarded as burn in, and the remaining 7.5 million generations (7500 trees) were summarized in a 50% majority rule consensus tree.
In summary, we observed six haplotypes in the Jinchuan population, but not in any of the other yak breeds or wild yaks. However, phylogenetic analyses did not distinguish Jinchuan from other breeds. The highly haplotype and nucleotide diversity of yaks in the Jinchuan population and breeds of Pali, Maiwa and Jiulong suggest that yak were perhaps first domesticated from wild yaks in the middle Himalayan region and north of the Hengduan Mountains. The special anatomic characteristic that we found in the Jinchuan population needs to be further studied, based on nuclear data.
This work was supported by the grants from State Science and Technology Support Program (2012BAD13B06), Application Foundation of Sichuan Province (2010JY0071), Project for Technology Supporting of Sichuan Province (2011FZ0054) and Project for Graduate Student Degree Program Supporting of Southwest University for Nationalities (2011XWD-S071012).
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|Table 1. Genetic diversity of Bos grunniens by Jinchuan population and other 12 domestic breeds together with wild population.|
|Breed or population||N||H||Hd ± SD||Pi ± SD||A||B||Nc|
|Jinchuan||23||13||0.925 ± 0.035||0.02035 ± 0.00225||3|
|Tianzhu||21||9||0.829 ± 0.066||0.00997 ± 0.00281||7||0.333333||4|
|Gannan||7||5||0.905 ± 0.103||0.01857 ± 0.00529||3||0.428571||7|
|Datong||31||19||0.942 ± 0.030||0.01582 ± 0.00271||13||0.419355||2|
|Huanhu||61||18||0.800 ± 0.048||0.01218 ± 0.00206||9||0.147541||5|
|Plateau||88||30||0.911 ± 0.017||0.01393 ± 0.00167||48||0.545455||14|
|Jiali||42||21||0.912 ± 0.031||0.01593 ± 0.00222||21||0.500000||1|
|Sibu||12||8||0.909 ± 0.065||0.01923 ± 0.00288||4||0.333333||2|
|Pali||40||19||0.933 ± 0.021||0.01733 ± 0.00220||19||0.475000||4|
|Maiwa||23||14||0.925 ± 0.041||0.01856 ± 0.00280||12||0.521739||6|
|Jiulong||12||8||0.924 ± 0.057||0.01403 ± 0.00477||5||0.416667||2|
|Bazhou||33||7||0.822 ± 0.035||0.00579 ± 0.00039||21||0.636364||0|
|Zhongdian||9||7||0.917 ± 0.092||0.02210 ± 0.00385||4||0.444444||1|
|wild||55||30||0.961 ± 0.012||0.02207 ± 0.00111||9||0.163636||23|
Note: N stands for the number of individuals; H stands for the number of haplotypes; Hd indicates the haplotype diversity (Mean ± SD) and Pi means the nucleotide diversity (Mean ± SD). A stands for the number of yaks that shared the same haplotype with the Jinchuan population in each breed, and B shows the percentage of A in each breed. Nc indicates the number of individuals in each breed used for complete mitochondrial genomic sequencing.
|Table 2. The number of individuals in each breed and wild population which shared the haplotype with the Jinchuan population.|
|Lineages||Clades||The haplotypes shared by Jinchuan and other yaks||The number of individuals from different populations harbored in the haplotypes|
|Lineage I||A||H6||4JC, 1ZD, 7PL, 2HH, 7TZ, 1GL, 19P, 7BZ, 3SB, 11JL, 7DT, 3MW, 3JL, 6W, 2SU|
|H14, H18, H57||3JC, 6PL, 5HH, 19P, 4BZ, 7JL, 4DT, 9MW, 2JL, 4GU|
|B||H35||2JC, 1GL, 1P, 10BZ, 1JL|
|Lineage II||C||H8||5JC, 3ZD, 6PL, 2HH, 1GL, 9P, 1SB, 2JL, 2DT, 2MW, 1GU|
Note: JC-Jinchuan, ZD-Zhongdian, PL-Pali, HH-Huanhu, TZ-Tianzhu, GL-Ganlan, P- Plateau, BZ-Bazhou, SB-Sibu, JL-Jiali, DT-Datong, MW-Maiwa, JL-Jiulong, W-Wild, SU-Sichuan unclear, GU-Gansu unclear.
|Table 3. Primers used for sequencing the complete mitochondrial genome.|
|PCR primer set||Primer name||Sequence(5′–3′)|
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