Open Access Open Badges Research article

Revealing fine scale subpopulation structure in the Vietnamese H'mong cattle breed for conservation purposes

C Berthouly123*, JC Maillard1, L Pham Doan4, T Nhu Van4, B Bed'Hom3, G Leroy23, H Hoang Thanh4, D Laloë3, N Bruneau3, C Vu Chi4, V Nguyen Dang4, E Verrier23 and X Rognon23

Author Affiliations

1 CIRAD, UPR AGIRs, Campus International de Baillarguet, 34398 Montpellier, France

2 AgroParisTech, UMR1313, Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, F-75005 Paris, France

3 INRA, UMR1313 Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, F-78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France

4 NIAH, Tu Liem, Ha Noi, Vietnam

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BMC Genetics 2010, 11:45  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-11-45

Published: 7 June 2010



During the last decades, there has been an acceleration of the loss of domestic animal biodiversity. For conservation purposes, the genetic diversity of the H'Mong cattle, an indigenous local breed was studied. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) of the SRY gene and mtDNA D-Loop sequence were analysed to clarify the origin of the breed. The genetic diversity was assessed through genetic data with twenty-five FAO microsatellites, and morphometric data with five body measurements from 408 animals sampled from eight districts of the Ha Giang province.


The SRY genes were all of the zebu type. Among the 27 mtDNA haplotypes, 12 haplotypes were of the taurine type and the remaining 15 of the zebu type. This indicates female taurine introgression in the zebu H'Mong. The observed and expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.616 to 0.673 and from 0.681 to 0.729 respectively according to district, with low genetic differentiation (FST = 0.0076). Multivariate analysis on morphometric and genetic data shows a separation of districts into two groups following a south-west/north-east cline and admixture analysis confirmed the two clusters, but no differentiation of taurine introgression between clusters was observed. A possible admixture with the Yellow cattle breed from a neighbouring province was suggested through genetic data and householder interviews.


In this study we demonstrate the interest of fine-scale sampling for the study of genetic structure of local breeds. Such a study allows avoiding erroneous conservation policies and on the contrary, proposes measures for conserving and limiting crossbreeding between the H'Mong and the Yellow cattle breeds.