Revealing the History of Sheep Domestication Using Retrovirus Integrations

Bernardo Chessa, Filipe Pereira, Frederick Arnaud, Antonio Amorim, Felix Goyache, Ingrid Mainland, Rowland R. Kao, Josephine M. Pemberton, Dario Beraldi, Michael J. Stear, Alberto Alberti, Marco Pittau, Leopoldo Iannuzzi, Mohammad H. Banabazi, Rudovick R. Kazwala, Ya-ping Zhang, Juan J. Arranz, Bahy A. Ali, Zhiliang Wang, Metehan UzunMichel M. Dione, Ingrid Olsaker, Lars-Erik Holm, Urmas Saarma, Sohail Ahmad, Nurbiy Marzanov, Emma Eythorsdottir, Martin J. Holland, Paolo Ajmone-Marsan, Michael W. Bruford, Juha Kantanen, Thomas E. Spencer, Massimo Palmarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The domestication of livestock represented a crucial step in human history. By using endogenous retroviruses as genetic markers, we found that sheep differentiated on the basis of their "retrotype" and morphological traits dispersed across Eurasia and Africa via separate migratory episodes. Relicts of the first migrations include the Mouflon, as well as breeds previously recognized as "primitive" on the basis of their morphology, such as the Orkney, Soay, and the Nordic short-tailed sheep now confined to the periphery of northwest Europe. A later migratory episode, involving sheep with improved production traits, shaped the great majority of present-day breeds. The ability to differentiate genetically primitive sheep from more modern breeds provides valuable insights into the history of sheep domestication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-536
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume324
Issue number5926
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2009

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