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Arctic Domus team members publish article on genetic differences between wild and domestic Rangifer

Arctic Domus team members publish article on genetic differences between wild and domestic Rangifer
26 July - 26 October 2017

Arctic Domus team members David Anderson, Kjersti S. Kvie, Vladimir N. Davydov, and Knut H. Røed published an article in Ecology and Evolution:

TitleMaintaining genetic integrity of coexisting wild and domestic populations: Genetic differentiation between wild and domestic Rangifer with long traditions of intentional interbreeding

AbstractThis study investigates the genetic effect of an indigenous tradition of deliberate and controlled interbreeding between wild and domestic Rangifer. The results are interpreted in the context of conservation concerns and debates on the origin of domestic animals. The study is located in Northeastern Zabań≠kal'e, Russia at approximately 57 degrees North latitude. Blood and skin samples, collected from wild and domestic Rangifer, are analyzed for their mtDNA and microsatellite signatures. Local husbandry traditions are documented ethnographically. The genetic data are analyzed with special reference to indigenous understandings of the distinctions between local domestic types and wild Rangifer. The genetic results demonstrate a strong differentiation between wild and domestic populations. Notably low levels of mtDNA haplotype sharing between wild and domestic reindeer, suggest mainly male-mediated gene flow between the two gene pools. The nuclear microsatellite results also point to distinct differences between regional domestic clusters. Our results indicate that the Evenki herders have an effective breeding technique which, while mixing pedigrees in the short term, guards against wholesale introgression between wild and domestic populations over the long term. They support a model of domestication where wild males and domestic females are selectively interbred, without hybridizing the two populations. Our conclusions inform a debate on the origins of domestication by documenting a situation where both wild and domestic types are in constant interaction. The study further informs a debate in conservation biology by demonstrating that certain types of controlled introgression between wild and domestic types need not reduce genetic diversity.

The article can be found (open-access) here.


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