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Nat Genet. 2003 Dec;35(4):311-3. Epub 2003 Nov 23.

Gene-culture coevolution between cattle milk protein genes and human lactase genes.

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Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, Génomique des Populations et Biodiversité, CNRS UMR 5553, Université Joseph Fourier, B.P. 53, 38041 Grenoble, Cedex 9, France.

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  • Nat Genet. 2004 Jan;36(1):106.


Milk from domestic cows has been a valuable food source for over 8,000 years, especially in lactose-tolerant human societies that exploit dairy breeds. We studied geographic patterns of variation in genes encoding the six most important milk proteins in 70 native European cattle breeds. We found substantial geographic coincidence between high diversity in cattle milk genes, locations of the European Neolithic cattle farming sites (>5,000 years ago) and present-day lactose tolerance in Europeans. This suggests a gene-culture coevolution between cattle and humans.

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