Dog selection

Tracking footprints of artificial selection in the dog genome:

The size, shape, and behavior of the modern domesticated dog has been sculpted by artificial selection for at least 14,000 years. The genetic substrates of selective breeding, however, remain largely unknown. Here, we describe a genome-wide scan for selection in 275 dogs from 10 phenotypically diverse breeds that were genotyped for over 21,000 autosomal SNPs. We identified 155 genomic regions that possess strong signatures of recent selection and contain candidate genes for phenotypes that vary most conspicuously among breeds, including size, coat color and texture, behavior, skeletal morphology, and physiology. In addition, we demonstrate a significant association between HAS2 and skin wrinkling in the Shar-Pei, and provide evidence that regulatory evolution has played a prominent role in the phenotypic diversification of modern dog breeds. Our results provide a first-generation map of selection in the dog, illustrate how such maps can rapidly inform the genetic basis of canine phenotypic variation, and provide a framework for delineating the mechanistic basis of how artificial selection promotes rapid and pronounced phenotypic evolution.

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In dogs it may be possible to find the goofiness gene. Dogs have been infantilized for the sake of dependency and loyalty and often don't seem too smart.

By John Emerson (not verified) on 11 Jan 2010 #permalink

I don't know whether you can get hold of it, Razza, but last week BBC2 carried quite a good programme on nature vs nurture, in the context of dogs and wolves, plus a good illustration on the Siberian work on the domestication of foxes.

By bioIgnoramus (not verified) on 12 Jan 2010 #permalink

@ John: "Dogs ...don't seem too smart" - you really should see that Beeb programme - there's a Hungraian lab that studies the intelligence of dogs and has found a doggie Newton in Austria.

By bioIgnoramus (not verified) on 12 Jan 2010 #permalink

"Dogs ...don't seem too smart" - you really should see that Beeb programme - there's a Hungraian lab that studies the intelligence of dogs and has found a doggie Newton in Austria.
Wow, that must be some pretty smart lab you are talking about. My lab only fetches the ball and gives the hand. ;)

I wonder if these data can be used to test the "neural crest" hypothesis of domestication...amazing in the context of that Siberian fox experiment.

There was an article about this in the Smithsonian awhile back. It might be: Coppinger R, Feinstein M: "Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark. . .", Smithsonian 21:119-128, 1991, though there might have been two different articles. It's not posted on the internet.

The gist was that they have bred tame foxes by simple selection by breeding the tamest ones out of ten consecutive litters. Eventually they got tameable foxes which would make good pets, but besides tameness, they carried a lot of other juvenile traits into adulthood. Essentially dogs are emotionally lifelong puppies, and we're their moms and dads.

By John Emerson (not verified) on 13 Jan 2010 #permalink

I'm not sure that the "emotional immaturity" selection pressure will have necessarily had much impact on intelligence (or how intelligence will manifest in dogs anyway - there's plenty of anecdotes for apparent problem-solving in dogs, but what matters would be intelligence compared to wolves and to other breeds). Many pet dogs are goofy because they're never trained to do much beyond play and amuse humans. Working dogs often show very goofy behaviour off duty, but still manage to focus well on their work.

By stripey_cat (not verified) on 14 Jan 2010 #permalink