The domestic goat (Capra hircus) plays a key role in global agriculture, being especially prized in regions of marginal pasture. However, the advent of industrialized breeding has seen a dramatic reduction in genetic diversity within commercial populations, while high extinction rates among feral herds have further depleted the reservoir of genetic variation available. Here, we present the first survey of whole mitochondrial genomic variation among the modern and historical goat populations of Britain and Ireland using a combination of mtDNA enrichment and high throughput sequencing. Fifteen historical taxidermy samples, representing the indigenous ‘Old Goat’ populations of the islands, were sequenced alongside five modern Irish dairy goats and four feral samples from endangered populations in western Ireland. Phylogenetic and network analyses of European mitochondrial variation revealed distinct groupings dominated by historical British and Irish samples, which demonstrate a degree of maternal genetic structure between the goats of insular and continental Europe. Several Irish modern feral samples also fall within these clusters, suggesting continuity between these dwindling populations and the ancestral ‘Old Goats’ of Ireland and Britain.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3693208.
- Received November 7, 2016.
- Accepted February 7, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.