Abstract - A Comprehensive Evaluation of Cattle Introgression into US Federal Bison Herds

Halbert, Natalie D. and Derr, James N. 2007. A Comprehensive Evaluation of Cattle Introgression into US Federal Bison Herds. Journal of Heredity 98(1): 1-12.


Genetic introgression, especially from interspecies hybridization, is a significant threat to species conservation worldwide. In this study, 11 US federal bison populations were comprehensively examined for evidence of both mitochondrial and nuclear domestic cattle (Bos taurus) introgression. Mitochondrial introgression was examined using established polymerase chain reaction methods and confirmed through analysis of D-loop sequences. Nuclear introgression was assessed in 14 chromosomal regions through examination of microsatellite electromorph and sequence differences between bison and domestic cattle. Only one population was identified with domestic cattle mitochondrial DNA introgression. In contrast, evidence of nuclear introgression was found in 7 (63.6%) of the examined populations. Historic accounts of bison transfers among populations were corroborated with evidence of introgressed DNA transmission. While neither nuclear nor mitochondrial domestic cattle introgression was detected in bison from Grand Teton National Park, Sully’s Hill National Game Preserve, Wind Cave National Park, or Yellowstone National park, adequate sample sizes were available only from the last 2 populations to allow for statistical confidence (>90%) in nuclear introgression detection limits. The identification of genetically unique and undisturbed populations is critical to species conservation efforts, and this study serves as a model for the genetic evaluation of interspecies introgression.

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