Genetic diversity and relationships of endangered Spanish cattle breeds.
Information on the genetic structure and variability of autochthonous livestock breeds is essential for effective conservation programs. Here we present a molecular characterization on the basis of 30 microsatellite markers of 5 Spanish endangered cattle breeds Betizu (BET), Mallorquina (MAL), Menorquina, Monchina (MON), and Serrana de Teruel (ST) and of 2 fighting bull populations, Casta Navarra (CN) and Casta Vistahermosa. The feral and critically endangered BET is divided into 2 subpopulations, one of which has exceptionally low diversity values. A low number of alleles was also observed in the island population MAL. Although the small population size and genetic drift have caused a considerable divergence between the breeds, phylogenetic analysis is in accordance with historical and geographical data. The 2 northern Spanish feral breeds BET and MON cluster together. The local fighting breed CN is relatively close to the more inbred Casta Vistahermosa, which is the progenitor of most other fighting bulls in Spain. Comparison with nonendangered breeds suggests admixture of Alpine and/or Pyrenean mountain cattle in the ST, which may contribute to the high level of linkage disequilibrium in this population.