Archivos Latinoamericanos de Producción Animal. 2021. 29 (3-4)
Phylogenetic relationships of Argentin ean Creole with other Latin American Creole Cattle as
revealed by a medium density Single Nucleotide Polymorphism microarray
Recceived: 2020-09-25. Accepted: 2021-02-07
Corresponding author: Mario Andrés Poli; e-mail:
Mario Andrés Poli
María Agustina Raschia
The demographic history of Creole cattle in Argentina and in Latin America dates back to the time of the Spanish
colonization. This study aimed to investigate the potential use of a medium-density SNP array to describe cattle
from the most representative and oldest herds of the Argentine Creole cattle breed registered at the time of the
constitution of the Argentinean C reo le Cattle Breeders Ass o c iatio n and to explore the phylogenetic relationship with
Creole cattle from other Latin American countries. To achieve this goal, genotypes from 51 animals on 34,008
autosomal SNP were used to generate genetic distance matrices based on the proportion of shared identical-by-state
alleles among individual animals and animals clustered according to their origin, analyzed by the PLINK program.
A neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree based on pairw is e genetic distance was constructed using PHYLIP and was
prepared for visualization using FigTree. A multidimensional scaling analysis was performed to evaluate the lev el
of relationship in terms of genetic distance among the different animal clusters. Genetic distances between animals
varied from 0.186 to 0.357 when considering all pairs of animals, and from 0.186 to 0.338 when considering Creole
pairs. The dendrogram obtained showed three major clusters. Cluster 1 included Latin American Creole cattle from
Colombia, Guadalupe, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and the reference groups of Holstein and Jersey cattle. Cluster 2
contained exclusively Patagonian Creole cattle, while the third cluster included the remaining Argentinean C reo les.
The genetic relationship patterns obtained via multidimensio nal scaling showed a close relationship among four
groups of Creole animals from Argentina. The closeness between clusters can be explained in part on the basis of
early migration of animals that gave rise to founders herds at some Argentinean locations. The outcom es of this
study contribute to a better understanding of the composition of the early founder herds of Creole cattle in
Argentina and the relationship with other Latin America Creole cattle populations .
Keywords: SNP microarray, multidimensional scaling, phylogenetic tree, Argentinean Creole cattle, Latin Am eric a
Creole cattle
Relaciones filogen étic as del Criollo argentino con otros bovinos Criollos de América Latina según lo revelado
por un microarreglo de polimorfismos de nucleótido simple de mediana densidad
La historia demográfica del bovino Criollo en Argentina y en América Latina en general se remonta a la época de
la colonización española. El objetivo de este estudio fue investigar el uso potenc ial de un microarreglo de SNP de
mediana densidad para describir animales de los ro d eo s más representativos y antiguos en el tiempo en que se
constituyó la Asociación Argentina de Criadores de Ganado Bovino Criollo y explorar la relación filogenética con
otros bovinos criollos de Latino am éric a. Con los genotipos de 51 animales en 34 008 SNP autosómicos se generaron
matrices de distancias genéticas basadas en la proporción de alelos idénticos por estado compartidos entre animales
y entre animales agrupados según su origen, con el programa PLINK. S e construyó un árbol filogenético basado en
distancias genéticas entre pares de animales usando PHYLIP, y se preparó para su visualización con FigTree. Se
realizó un análisis de escalamiento multidimensional para evaluar la relación en términos de d is tanc ia genética
entre los diferentes grupos de animales. Las distanc ias genéticas entre animales variaro n de 0.186 a 0.357 al
considerar todos los pares de animales, y de 0.186 a 0.338 al considerar pares de criollos. El dendrograma obtenido
presentó tres agrupamientos. El grupo 1 incluyó ganado criollo de Colombia, Guadalupe, Paraguay y Uruguay, y
los grupos de referencia Holando y Jersey. El grupo 2 c o m prend ió exclusivamente ganado criollo patagónico,
mientras que el tercer grupo incluyó los restantes criollos argentinos. Los patrones de relación genética obtenidos a
través del escalamiento multidimensional demostraron una íntima relación entre criollos de cuatro orígenes de
Argentina. Esto puede explicarse en parte por la migración temprana de animales que o riginaro n los rodeos
Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, CICVyA-CNIA, Instituto de Genética “Ewald A. Favret”, Nicolás Repetto y de Los Reseros s/n,
Hurlingham (B1686), Buenos Aires, Argentina
Raschia y Poli
The current territory of Argentina received the first
cattle through four routes in the 16th century: Bolivia
in 1549, Chile in 1551, Paraguay in 1554, and the South
of Brazil. Later, the introduction o f animals from the
Canary Islands to the Río de la Plata also occurred.
The spread of cattle before and during that period was
a consequence of the foundation of cities by Spanish
colonizers (Gibert i, 1970).
The geographic conditions, moderate climate,
abundance of pastures , and nearly complete absence
of predators in the central and eastern regions of
Argentina (Pampas) resulted in a great expansion of
livestock. By 1850 the first cattle breed from northern
Europe were imported (Shorthorn, Hereford, A ngus ).
In the following decades, the crossbreeding process
was very extensive in order to obtain animals with a
greater tendency to fatness as required by the export
market. The consequence was a total absorption o f the
Creole cattle of the Pampas region. Creole cattle were
then displaced and confined to regions where other
breeds could not survive, including tropical,
subtropical, arid, and Southwest Patagonia areas
(Martinez et al., 2000).
In 1959, the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología
Agropecuaria (INTA) established the first
experimental Creole cattle herd (consisting of 35 cows
and 2 bulls from the NW region) in Leales in Tucumán
province. During 1959-1970 Creole animals w ere used
as a control “local” breed for the crosses of European
breeds with Zebu cattle. Later (1971-1988), the
objectives were to intensify Creole characterization
and to develop a select nucleus of Creole cattle with
emphasis on the diffusion and insertion of this breed
into the national cattle herds (Holgado and Ortega,
2019). In 1985 and by the joint initiative of private
breeders and INTA, the current Argentinean Creole
Cattle Breeders Assoc iatio n was established.
Creole cattle in Argentina have been studied by
other institutions and their productive and
reproductive behavior has been characterized in
different environments, both in purebred and
crossbred states (Corva et a l., 1995; Holgado and
Rabasa, 2001; Martinez et al., 2003; Rabasa and
Holgado, 2000; Rabasa et al., 2005; Sal Paz et al., 1976).
Early studies involved characterization by blood
groups and other biochemical polymorphisms (Poli,
1986; Poli and Antonini, 1991). Later, studies of genetic
diversity using molecular markers at the DNA level,
including microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA,
were carried out (Giovambattista et al., 1996, 2001;
Lirón et al., 2006; Martinez et al., 2003). Since the
advancement in high-throughput genotyping
techniques such as SNP (single nucleotide
polymorphism) microarrays, several studies using a
relatively large number of SNPs to explore the genetic
diversity, demographic history, and relatedness
between different cattle breeds have been published
(Browett et al., 2018; Mastrangelo et al., 2018;
Sermyagin et al., 2018; Frantz et al., 2020; Meseret et a l.,
2020; Upadhyay et al, 2019). The purpose of this study
was to investigate the potential use o f a medium-
density SNP array to describe cattle from the most
representative and oldest herds of the Argentine
Creole cattle breed registered at the time of the
constitution of the Argentinean Creole Cattle Breeders
Association and to explore the phylogenetic
relationship with Creole cattle from other Latin
American co untries .
Material and Methods
A total of 42 samples of Creole cattle were used in
this study from the D NA repository of Creole cattle
that INTA has at the Institute of Genetics. Animals
were sampled from 13 herds from 5 countries whose
geographic distribution is shown in Figure 1. Table 1
shows the name of the farm where samples were
collected, the acronyms used in this wo rk, the number
of samples genotyped, the country, and the author and
year of collec tio n. All samples from Argentina were
taken during the phenotypic inspection and
registration process of the first animals in the breeder
association record book. After the Breeders
Association was established and in the following years
a breed standard was drawn up, and training and
dissemination courses on productive and phenotypic
traits of this breed were held. The genotyped samples
were from unrelated animals selected based on the
structure of the herd to which they belonged, their
origins, and the availability of historical, phenotypic,
and pedigree inform atio n. The samples from Paraguay
fundadores en algunas localidades argentinas. Los resultados de este estudio contribuirán a una mejor comprensión
de la formación de los rodeos fundadores de criollos en Argentina y de la relación con otras poblaciones de ganado
criollo de América Latina.
Palabras clave: Microarreglo d e SNP, escalamiento multidimensional, árbol filogenético, bovino Criollo A rgentina,
Bovinos Criollos L at inoam éric a
ISSN-L 1022-1301. Archivos Latinoamericano s de Producción Animal. 2021. 29 (3-4): 91-100