Population structure and genetic diversity in Colombian Simmental cattle


A vital requirement to design and implement a breeding program is to know the structure and genetic diversity of a population. The aim of this study was to characterize population structure and genetic diversity of the Colombian Simmental cattle. The pedigree file included 27,985 animals born from 1975 to 2017. The level of genetic diversity and breed structure was evaluated through probabilities of gene origin expressed via effective number of founders, ancestors and founders genomes. The inbreeding rates and the degree of genetic connectivity were estimated using a regression analysis and a genetic drift variance analysis, respectively. The lowest effective number of founders and ancestors were 50 and 38 by year, respectively. The average inbreeding by year of birth decreased from 5.06% in 1980 to 2.25% in 2017. The dairy line genetic contributions in the overall population increased significantly in the last 37 years, and the beef line contribution decreased. Regarding the genetic connectivity, Colombian regions (administrative divisions) with the largest cattle population had higher values. The results indicate that the availability of European and North American bulls contributes to genetic diversity by increasing the effective number of founders over time in the Colombian Simmental cattle population. However, the intensive use of relatively few founders causes an unbalanced genetic contribution and the loss of genetic diversity by gene pool erosion.

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The authors wish to thank the Asociación Colombiana de Criadores de Ganado Simmental and the Departamento de Genética de la Corporación Colombiana Investigación Agropecuaria (AGROSAVIA) in Tibaitatá. The authors would also like to thank the research group GaMMA of the Universidad de Antioquia.


Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas y Ambientales U.D.C.A and Colciencias (scholarship No 727 of 2015) financed the first author’s DSc studies.

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The work was designed by AA, RM and MCM. The statistical analyses involved AA, RM and MCM. The manuscript was written by AA and proofread by RM and MCM. All the authors read and approved the final version.

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Correspondence to Mario Cerón-Muñoz.

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Amaya, A., Martínez, R. & Cerón-Muñoz, M. Population structure and genetic diversity in Colombian Simmental cattle. Trop Anim Health Prod 52, 1133–1139 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-019-02111-w

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  • Beef cattle
  • Dairy cattle
  • Generation interval
  • Genetic connectivity
  • Inbreeding
  • Probability of gene origin