Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Canine morphology: Hunting for genes and tracking mutations

Date:
March 3, 2010
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Why do domestic dogs vary so much in size, shape, coat texture, color and patterning? Study of the dog genome has reached a point where the molecular mechanisms governing such variation across mammalian species are becoming understood.

Researchers studying the dog genome have a new understanding of why domestic dogs vary so much in size, shape, coat texture, color and patterning.
Credit: iStockphoto/Nataliya Kuznetsova

Why do domestic dogs vary so much in size, shape, coat texture, color and patterning? Study of the dog genome has reached a point where the molecular mechanisms governing such variation across mammalian species are becoming understood.

In an essay published in the March 2, 2010 issue of PLoS Biology, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) researchers discuss advances in understanding the genomic mechanisms controlling canine morphology.

There are more than 300 dog breeds in the world, including 170 recognized by the American Kennel Club. All are members of the species Canis familiaris. The authors review unique features of the canine genome that make it particularly good for genetic studies, and they show that breeds can be divided into five major groups derived from groups of ancient forebears. "Study of variation in the dog species, with its breeding structure, helps us hone in on the genomic factors for traits shared across species, including analogs for diseases that occur in the human population," said senior author Elaine Ostrander, Ph.D., chief of NHGRI's Cancer Genetics Branch.

This essay highlights the unique features of dog populations that offer advantages for genetic studies, as well as recent advances in canine genomics that show how genetic mechanisms may control breed-defining traits. For example, the hunt for genes for a prominent trait in more than one breed (such as short legs) is simplified because of the genetic diversity observed between breeds. Also it is easier to identify disease genes in dogs than in the much more diverse human population.

Several features of the dog genome may lead to the large differences between domestic dog breeds, generating a higher rate of new, non-lethal variants in the dog genome, which are then available to be selected upon by breeders. Several discoveries correlating a gene to a particular trait are discussed, from the characteristic short legs of breeds like dachshunds and corgis, to the 30-fold differential in dog skeletal size, to fur texture and color.

"The dog genome is an extraordinary model for genomic study due to the combination of selective breeding practices and perhaps this species' unique capacity to undergo adaptive molecular changes," said co-author Abigail Shearin, a University of Pennsylvania veterinary student pursuing research training in the Ostrander Lab.

This work is supported by the intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Howard Hughes Scholars Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shearin AL, Ostrander EA. Canine Morphology: Hunting for Genes and Tracking Mutations. PLoS Biology, 2010; 8(3): e1000310 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000310

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Canine morphology: Hunting for genes and tracking mutations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100301201937.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2010, March 3). Canine morphology: Hunting for genes and tracking mutations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100301201937.htm
Public Library of Science. "Canine morphology: Hunting for genes and tracking mutations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100301201937.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins