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A Dig into the Past Mitochondrial Diversity of Corsican Goats Reveals the Influence of Secular Herding Practices

Abstract : The goat (Capra hircus) is one of the earliest domesticated species ca. 10,500 years ago in the Middle-East where its wild ancestor, the bezoar (Capra aegagrus), still occurs. During the Neolithic dispersal, the domestic goat was then introduced in Europe, including the main Mediterranean islands. Islands are interesting models as they maintain traces of ancient colonization, historical exchanges or of peculiar systems of husbandry. Here, we compare the mitochondrial genetic diversity of both medieval and extant goats in the Island of Corsica that presents an original and ancient model of breeding with free-ranging animals. We amplified a fragment of the Control Region for 21 medieval and 28 current goats. Most of them belonged to the A haplogroup, the most worldwide spread and frequent today, but the C haplogroup is also detected at low frequency in the current population. Present Corsican goats appeared more similar to medieval goats than to other European goat populations. Moreover, 16 out of the 26 haplotypes observed were endemic to Corsica and the inferred demographic history suggests that the population has remained constant since the Middle Ages. Implications of these results on management and conservation of endangered Corsican goats currently decimated by a disease are addressed.
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Sandrine Hughes, Helena Fernández, Thomas Cucchi, Maryline Duffraisse, François Casabianca, et al.. A Dig into the Past Mitochondrial Diversity of Corsican Goats Reveals the Influence of Secular Herding Practices. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2012, 7 (1), pp.e30272. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0030272⟩. ⟨insu-00845156⟩

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