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

Albano Beja-Pereira, Gordon Luikart, Phillip R. England, Daniel G. Bradley, Oliver C. Jann, Giorgio Bertorelle, Andrew T. Chamberlain, Telmo P. Nunes, Stoitcho Metodiev, Nuno Ferrand, Georg Erhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-313
Number of pages3
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003


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