Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not the black sheep of domestic animals: Unprecedented in-depth view of the genetic history of sheep

Date:
February 7, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Mapping the ancestry of sheep over the past 11,000 years has revealed that our woolly friends are stars among domestic animals, boasting vast genetic diversity and substantial prospects for continued breeding to further boost wool and food production for a rising world population. An international research team has provided an unprecedented in-depth view of the genetic history of sheep, one of the world's most important livestock species. The study maps out how humans have moulded sheep to suit diverse environments and to enhance the specialised production of meat, wool and milk.

Sheep.
Credit: Klaus Eppele / Fotolia

Mapping the ancestry of sheep over the past 11,000 years has revealed that our woolly friends are stars among domestic animals, boasting vast genetic diversity and substantial prospects for continued breeding to further boost wool and food production for a rising world population.

An international research team has provided an unprecedented in-depth view of the genetic history of sheep, one of the world's most important livestock species. The study, published February 7 in the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology, maps out how humans have moulded sheep to suit diverse environments and to enhance the specialised production of meat, wool and milk.

The study identified particular regions of the sheep genome that appear to have changed rapidly in response to selection for genes controlling traits such as coat colour, body size, reproduction and, especially, the lack of horns -- one of the earliest goals of selective breeding.

Detailing sheep domestication and migration patterns across the globe, it also supports and adds to the current knowledge of human movements throughout history.

The team traced the relatedness between nearly 3,000 sheep by comparing 50,000 DNA sites across the genome, and pinpointed the genetic consequences of domestication and subsequent division of sheep into hundreds of breeds, according to lead author Dr James Kijas from Australia's national science agency, CSIRO.

"Our detailed gene map is telling us that sheep breeds have been formed in a 'fluid' way that makes them different from other species of domestic animals. Frequent mating and strong gene flow between animals of different breeds has ensured that most modern sheep breeds have maintained high levels of genetic diversity, in contrast to some breeds of dogs and cattle that generally have higher levels of inbreeding," Dr Kijas says.

"This high level of genetic diversity means that sheep breeders can continue to expect strong improvements in important production traits -- improvements that could play a part in feeding the growing number of people in the world, with an increasing demand for animal protein."

"The technology that we have used in this study is helping to identify genes that control economically important traits, and to track down genetic variants that cause diseases. This may ultimately help producers to intensify or remove certain traits through targeted breeding practices."

The extensive DNA sampling that underpins the research, encompassing 74 sheep breeds from around the world, will provide a touchstone for livestock research for years to come, including studies of genetic diversity to better manage the conservation of threatened breeds.

The research was facilitated and coordinated through the International Sheep Genomics Consortium.


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. James W. Kijas, Johannes A. Lenstra, Ben Hayes, Simon Boitard, Laercio R. Porto Neto, Magali San Cristobal, Bertrand Servin, Russell McCulloch, Vicki Whan, Kimberly Gietzen, Samuel Paiva, William Barendse, Elena Ciani, Herman Raadsma, John McEwan, Brian Dalrymple. Genome-Wide Analysis of the World's Sheep Breeds Reveals High Levels of Historic Mixture and Strong Recent Selection. PLoS Biology, 2012; 10 (2): e1001258 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001258

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Not the black sheep of domestic animals: Unprecedented in-depth view of the genetic history of sheep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120207202620.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, February 7). Not the black sheep of domestic animals: Unprecedented in-depth view of the genetic history of sheep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120207202620.htm
Public Library of Science. "Not the black sheep of domestic animals: Unprecedented in-depth view of the genetic history of sheep." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120207202620.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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