The scientists have now come up with evidence to prove that the river buffalo was first domesticated in the northwestern region of India, probably in the places of distribution of the present day Mehsana, Surati, and Pandharpuri breeds.
The study concludes that the domestication process involved a continuous influx of wild buffalo genes into the Indian domestic stocks after the initial domestication event.
The study excludes the Mesopotamian region as the place of domestication of the river buffalo. With a population of 98 million in India, 26 million in Pakistan, and 3.9 million in Egypt, the river buffalo constitutes about 90 per cent of the total global buffalo population and accounts for 92 per cent of the total milk produced from the species. Seals from the Indus Valley civilization dating around 2500 BC and those from the Akkadia era (2100 BC to 2500 BC) of the Mesopotamian civilisation have been found to depict images of the buffalo.
The study indicated that the migration of the river buffalo from India to Iran, followed by genetic drift, would have contributed to the high genetic variability in the Iranian buffalo. The lack of genetic similarities between the Iranian buffalo and other buffalo populations, especially Pakistan buffalo, suggests that the migration of river buffalo from India to Iran could not have occurred through land but probably through sea.
Their research was highlighted in the Hindu Newspaper and can be accessed from:
The findings have been published in ‘Genome Biology and Evolution,’ an open access journal published by the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. The full text of the paper can be accessed from here.