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Commerce kept camel DNA diverse

Nature volume 533, page 295 (19 May 2016) | Download Citation


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Ancient caravans travelling through the deserts of the Middle East and Africa over the past several thousand years have shaped the genetic diversity of domestic camels.

To learn about camels' evolutionary history, a team led by Pamela Burger at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna and Olivier Hanotte at the University of Nottingham, UK, analysed DNA from the remains of 15 ancient dromedaries and from more than 1,000 living ones from 21 countries. They found that domestic camels (Camelus dromedarius; pictured) are most closely related to wild ones now living in the southeast Arabian Peninsula, and that their DNA varies little by geography — a possible relic of ancient trading routes that mixed the genes of distant populations.

Unlike some other domesticated livestock, camels seem to have largely maintained their ancestral genetic diversity.

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2016)

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