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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006 Jan;38(1):12-9. Epub 2005 Nov 7.

Multiple maternal origins of chickens: out of the Asian jungles.

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Yunnan Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Domestic Animals, and Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650223, China.


Domestic chickens have long been important to human societies for food, religion, entertainment, and decorative uses, yet the origins and phylogeography of chickens through Eurasia remain uncertain. Here, we assessed their origins and phylogeographic history by analyzing the mitochondrial DNA hypervariable segment I (HVS-I) for 834 domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) across Eurasia as well as 66 wild red jungle fowls (Gallus gallus) from Southeast Asia and China. Phylogenetic analyses revealed nine highly divergent mtDNA clades (A-I) in which seven clades contained both the red jungle fowls and domestic chickens. There was no breed-specific clade in the chickens. The clades A, B, and E are distributed ubiquitously in Eurasia, while the other clades were restricted to South and Southeast Asia. Clade C was mainly distributed in Japan and Southeast China, while clades F and G were exclusive to Yunnan, China. The geographic distribution of clade D was closely related to the distribution of the pastime of cock fighting. Statistical tests detect population expansion within each subclade. These distinct distribution patterns and expansion signatures suggest that different clades may originate from different regions, such as Yunnan, South and Southwest China and/or surrounding areas (i.e., Vietnam, Burma, and Thailand), and the Indian subcontinent, respectively, which support the theory of multiple origins in South and Southeast Asia.

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