What domestication changes

By Razib Khan | April 13, 2009 10:37 am

Over at Gene Expression Classic p-ter points to an interesting paper, Genetic Architecture of Tameness in a Rat Model of Animal Domestication:

A common feature of domestic animals is tameness – i.e. they tolerate and are unafraid of human presence and handling. To gain insight into the genetic basis of tameness and aggression, we studied an intercross between two lines of rats (Rattus norvegicus) selected over more than 60 generations for increased tameness and increased aggression against humans, respectively. We measured 45 traits, including tameness and aggression, anxiety-related traits, organ weights, and levels of serum components in more than 700 rats from an intercross population. Using 201 genetic markers, we identified two significant quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for tameness. These loci overlap with QTLs for adrenal gland weight and for anxiety-related traits, and are part of a five-locus epistatic network influencing tameness. An additional QTL influences the occurrence of white coat spots, but shows no significant effect on tameness. The loci described here are important starting points for finding the genes that cause tameness in these rats, and potentially in domestic animals in general.

Remember that domestication and agricultural research were critical in Charles Darwin’s own conception of evolutionary process.
Related: The G matrix, pleiotropy and quantitative traits.

  • abb3w

    I wonder if there are similar genetic differences between rural and urban human populations….

  • doug l

    Very interesting.
    Would be more interesting if similar selection criteria were applied to a population of primates.

  • http://changelog.ca/ Charles Iliya Krempeaux

    @doug, you said…

    Very interesting.
    Would be more interesting if similar selection criteria were applied to a population of primates.

    You’d need find a primate species who reaches a breeding age “quickly” to make such a thing practical.[1]


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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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