Domestication of wild animals results in a reduction in the effective population size and this could affect the deleterious mutation load of domesticated breeds. Furthermore, artificial selection will also contribute to accumulation deleterious mutations due to the increased rate of inbreeding among these animals. The process of domestication, founder population size, and artificial selection differ between cattle breeds, which could lead to a variation in their deleterious mutation loads. We investigated this using mitochondrial genome data from 252 animals belonging to 15 cattle breeds of the world.
Our analysis revealed more than fivefold difference in the deleterious mutation load among cattle breeds. We also observed a negative correlation between the neutral heterozygosity and the ratio of amino acid changing diversity to silent diversity. This suggests a proportionally higher amino acid changing variants in breeds with low diversity. Our results highlight the magnitude of difference in the deleterious mutations present in the mitochondrial genomes of various breeds. The results of this study could be useful in predicting the rate of incidence of genetic diseases in different breeds.