Scientists Shearin, Ostrander Study 300 Dog Breeds & Canine Genes
The dog is thought to be the most varied mammal on earth. Even Darwin marveled at the diversity of dog shape, size and colour.
There are over 300 recognized domestic dog breeds across the world and they are all of the same species, Canis familiaris, which means that they can interbreed to produce puppies.
Scientists Abigail L. Shearin and Elaine A. Ostrander have been studying the genetic make up of dogs to find out why so many species breed effectively. The study published today is called 'Canine Morphology: Hunting for Genes and Tracking Mutations'.
We've been selectively breeding dogs over a number of years to create new breeds so dogs offer closed breeding populations, which makes it easier than studying genetic effects on human populations.
The authors hope that by studying dogs' genetic diversity they might shed further light on the study of the human genome and how human genes link to produce diversity. This could in turn lead to future medical breakthroughs.
In this essay we consider some of the features of the canine genome relevant for successful studies of selected traits. We discuss current hypotheses regarding the development and maintenance of genetic variation in dogs today. We consider examples in which identified genes account for unique, and sometimes complex, phenotypes. Finally, we consider the implications of these findings for studies of true complex traits, such as those associated with behavioral genetics.