Genetic variability of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II (DRB3) in South African and Namibian beef cattle breeds
The major histocompatibility complex region has been implicated in explaining some of the variation observed in adaptability and tick susceptibility of cattle. The bovine leukocyte antigen region of 192 cattle representing indigenous, composite and exotic breeds used in commercial beef production in Namibia and South Africa was investigated using four microsatellite markers. Ticks counted under the tail were taken as an indicator of tick susceptibility. Tick scores of all but one population was low (11 to 20 ticks), with only the South African Bonsmara population having an average score of 31 to 40 ticks per animal. The observed variation based on four microsatellite markers ranged from 5.5 alleles in Namibian Afrikaner to 7.7 alleles in South African Nguni and Bonsmara cattle. Unbiased heterozygosity values ranged from 0.66 (Namibian Afrikaner) to 0.76 (South African Bonsmara). Structure analyses grouped the five populations into three indistinct clusters with limited genetic variation between the populations.
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