The domestication of dogs was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated1,2,3,4,5 and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencing 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 domestication6. 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.
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We thank Järvzoo, Nordens ark and the Canine Biobank at Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences for providing samples, Uppsala Genomics Platform at SciLifeLab Uppsala for generating the resequencing data, the UPPNEX platform for assisting with computational infrastructure for data analysis and the Broad Institute Genomics Platform for validation genotyping. The project was funded by the SSF, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Research Council Formas, Uppsala University and a EURYI to K.L.-T. funded by the ESF supporting also E.A.; K.M. was funded by the Higher Education Commission, Pakistan.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
This file contains Supplementary Discussions sections 1-9, Supplementary references, Supplementary Figures 1-24 and Supplementary Tables 1-25. (PDF 6581 kb)
This zipped file lists the position of short indels in the canine genome. (ZIP 3569 kb)
This zipped file lists the position of CNVs in the canine genome. (ZIP 257 kb)
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Axelsson, E., Ratnakumar, A., Arendt, ML. et al. The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature 495, 360–364 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11837
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