Vilwadri cattle established as genetically divergent

A genetic diversity study by a group of scientists of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Animal Genetics and Breeding (CASAGB) under the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) has established that the native Vilwadri cattle of Thrissur district is genetically divergent from the rest of the cattle population in the State.

The two-year project, Genetic diversity analysis among cattle genetic groups of Kerala using microsatellite markers, was conducted with financial assistance of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment.

“The cattle population, including cross-bred cattle of Kerala, Vechur, Kasaragod, Vadakara, and Vilwadri were studied using 25 microsatellites (genetic markers) chosen from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Society for Animal Genetics panel, which were amplified from genomic DNA using multiplex polymerase chain reaction,” says G. Radhika, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Pookode.

The final result showed that the native cattle breed of Kerala — Vechur, along with Kasaragod and Vilwadri cattle — separated into distinct populations with more genetic distance from others, says Dr. Radhika, who is also the principal investigator of the project. This finding will definitely promote the efforts for the conservation of these animals, she says.

The Vilwadri cattle are found in the Thiruvilwamala area on the Palakkad-Thrissur border. The cattle are humped like other indigenous cattle of the State but they are bigger with longer horns compared to others. Indigenous breeds are disease-resistant and can withstand high temperatures.

Other members of the team include T.V. Aravindakshan, Director, CASAGB, Mannuthy; K. Anilkumar, Professor, and M. Manoj, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Mannuthy; S. Ajithkumar, Director, Clinics, KVASU, Pookode; and Stephy Thomas, Research Assistant.

The team was supported by the Kasaragod Cattle Farm and the conservation trusts of Vilwadri and Vadakara cattle.

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