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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet

Axelsson E, Ratnakumar A, Arendt ML, Maqbool K, Webster MT, Perloski M, Liberg O, Arnemo JM, Hedhammar Å, Lindblad-Toh K


The domestication of dogs. was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated(1-5) and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencimg of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication. Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioural changes central to dog domestication(6). Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.

Published in

2013, volume: 495, number: 7441, pages: 360-364
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

Authors' information

Axelsson, E.
Ratnakumar, A.
Arendt, M
Maqbool, Khurram
Uppsala University
Webster, Matthew
Perloski, M.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences
Lindblad-Toh, Kerstin

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Veterinary Science

Publication Identifiers


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