Weak Genetic Structure in Northern African Dromedary Camels Reflects Their Unique Evolutionary History

PLoS One. 2017 Jan 19;12(1):e0168672. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168672. eCollection 2017.


Knowledge on genetic diversity and structure of camel populations is fundamental for sustainable herd management and breeding program implementation in this species. Here we characterized a total of 331 camels from Northern Africa, representative of six populations and thirteen Algerian and Egyptian geographic regions, using 20 STR markers. The nineteen polymorphic loci displayed an average of 9.79 ± 5.31 alleles, ranging from 2 (CVRL8) to 24 (CVRL1D). Average He was 0.647 ± 0.173. Eleven loci deviated significantly from Hardy-Weinberg proportions (P<0.05), due to excess of homozygous genotypes in all cases except one (CMS18). Distribution of genetic diversity along a weak geographic gradient as suggested by network analysis was not supported by either unsupervised and supervised Bayesian clustering. Traditional extensive/nomadic herding practices, together with the historical use as a long-range beast of burden and its peculiar evolutionary history, with domestication likely occurring from a bottlenecked and geographically confined wild progenitor, may explain the observed genetic patterns.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Northern
  • Algeria
  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Breeding
  • Camelus / blood
  • Camelus / genetics*
  • Egypt
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population
  • Homozygote
  • Livestock / blood
  • Livestock / genetics
  • Microsatellite Repeats

Grants and funding

Part of this study (collection, DNA isolation and genotyping of samples from Sidi Barrani, Negeila and Marsa Matruh) has been achieved within the PROCAMED project funded by European Union within the ENPI-CBC-MED, reference number I.B/1.1/493. The content of the present document is under the responsibility of the Authors and could not be considered as the position of European Union.