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Genetic diversity and population structure of Mongolian domestic Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus)

Chuluunbat, B., Charruau, P., Silbermayr, K., Khorloojav, T., Burger, P. A.
Animal genetics 2014 v.45 no.4 pp. 550-558
Bactrian camels, animal husbandry, breeds, dromedaries, genetic variation, horses, inbreeding, livestock production, population dynamics, population structure, steppes
The tradition of animal husbandry in the context of a nomadic lifestyle has been of great significance in the Mongolian society. Both Bactrian camels and horses have been invaluable for the survival and development of human activities in the harsh arid environment of the Mongolian steppe. As camels offer unique and sustainable opportunities for livestock production in marginal agro‐ecological zones, we investigated the current genetic diversity of three local Mongolian camel breeds and compared their levels of variation with common native Mongolian camels distributed throughout the country. Based on mitochondrial and nuclear markers, we found levels of genetic diversity in Mongolian populations similar to that reported for Chinese Bactrian camels and for dromedaries. Little differentiation was detected between single breeds, except for a small group originating from the northwestern Mongolian Altai. We found neither high inbreeding levels in the different breeds nor evidence for a population decline. Although the Mongolian camel census size has severely declined over the past 20 years, our analyses suggest that there still exists a stable population with adequate genetic variation for continued sustainable utilization.