Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)
Conference papers

Evolution of placentation in cattle and antelopes

Anthony M. Carter

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Bovids have enjoyed great evolutionary success as evidenced by the large number of extant species. Several important domestic animals are from this family. They derive from both subfamilies: cattle and their kin belong to Bovinae and sheep and goats to Antilopinae. The premise of this review, therefore, is that evolution of reproduction and placentation is best understood in a context that includes antelope-like bovines and antelopes. Many key features of placentation, including hormone secretion, had evolved before bovids emerged as a distinct group. Variation nevertheless occurs. Most striking is the difference in fusion of the binucleate trophoblast cell with uterine epithelium that yields a transient trinucleate cell in bovines and many antelopes, but a more persistent syncytium in wildebeest, sheep and goat. There is considerable variation in placentome number and villus branching within the placentome. Many antelopes have right-sided implantation in a bicornuate uterus whilst others have a uterus duplex. Finally, there has been continued evolution of placental hormones with tandem duplication of PAG genes in cattle, differences in glycosylation of placental lactogen and the emergence of placental growth hormone in sheep and goats. The selection pressures driving this evolution are unknown though maternal-fetal competition for nutrients is an attractive hypothesis.


Antilopinae, binucleate trophoblast cell, Bovidae, Bovinae, chorioallantoic placenta, domestication, fetal membranes, placental hormones, placentome, unilateral implantation.


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