Study shows 155 regions in dog genome influenced by selective breeding

Study shows 155 regions in dog genome influenced by selective breeding

Jan 25, 2010
By staff
Seattle, Wash. -- Researchers at the University of Washington have scanned the genomes of 275 unrelated dogs to discover what role human selection has had in purebred dogs. In the process, they identified 155 regions that they believe have been affected by selective breeding. The results were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers concentrated on 10 distinct breeds -- Beagles, Border Collies, Brittanys, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Jack Russell Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Shar-peis and standard Poodles. They were looking for genes related to the most conspicuous variations, including size, coat color, coat texture, behavior, physiology and skeletal structure.

These attributes have achieved their extreme variation in dogs through artificial selection by people only recently in evolutionary terms -- the past few centuries -- even though domesticated dogs have been around for more than 14,000 years, says the lead researcher Dr. Joshua Akey, an assistant professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington.

The researchers found more than 21,000 small variations; the most genetically distinct breeds were German shepherds, Shar-peis, beagles and greyhounds.

The findings in this study may help in the work with the human genome as well. The researchers say that, in many cases, it may be easier to locate the genetic targets of selection in dogs and then map these targets to related regions in people.