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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 1;8(8):e67775. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067775. Print 2013.

Domestication process of the goat revealed by an analysis of the nearly complete mitochondrial protein-encoding genes.

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  • 1Tokyo University of Agriculture, Kanagawa, Japan.


Goats (Capra hircus) are one of the oldest domesticated species, and they are kept all over the world as an essential resource for meat, milk, and fiber. Although recent archeological and molecular biological studies suggested that they originated in West Asia, their domestication processes such as the timing of population expansion and the dynamics of their selection pressures are little known. With the aim of addressing these issues, the nearly complete mitochondrial protein-encoding genes were determined from East, Southeast, and South Asian populations. Our coalescent time estimations suggest that the timing of their major population expansions was in the Late Pleistocene and significantly predates the beginning of their domestication in the Neolithic era (≈10,000 years ago). The ω (ratio of non-synonymous rate/synonymous substitution rate) for each lineage was also estimated. We found that the ω of the globally distributed haplogroup A which is inherited by more than 90% of goats examined, turned out to be extremely low, suggesting that they are under severe selection pressure probably due to their large population size. Conversely, the ω of the Asian-specific haplogroup B inherited by about 5% of goats was relatively high. Although recent molecular studies suggest that domestication of animals may tend to relax selective constraints, the opposite pattern observed in our goat mitochondrial genome data indicates the process of domestication is more complex than may be presently appreciated and cannot be explained only by a simple relaxation model.

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