Leif Andersson

Title:”A study of the genetic basis for tameness by genome-wide comparison of wild and domestic rabbits”

Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology Science of Life Laboratory

Date:March 27, Thursday, 16.15

Location:Nobel Forum

Host: Magnus Nordenskjöld

Contact:Tatiana Goriatcheva, Nobelkansliet, Nobel Forum, tel:+46-8-52487805, tatiana.goriatcheva@nobel.se


Domestication of animals – the transformation of wild species into domesticated forms – has resulted in striking changes in behaviour, morphology, physiology and reproduction. Genetic and genomic studies have resulted in the identification of a number of mutations that have contributed to the diversification of domestic animals. However, the genetic basis for the initial steps of animal domestication is still poorly understood. This must have involved changes in behaviour that allowed the animals to survive and reproduce under conditions that would be too stressful for a wild animal. The rabbit provides unique opportunities to shed light on the genetics of tameness and the initial steps of domestication because we know where and when domestication happened, namely in Southern France as late as during the 6th century. We have now performed an extensive comparison of the genetic constitution of wild and domestic rabbits by whole genome resequencing of domestic rabbits from six breeds and wild rabbits sampled at 14 localities on the Iberian Peninsula and in Southern France. We have revealed strong signatures of selection at a large number of genes. Our results as regards which genes and what type of mutations have played a crucial role in rabbit domestication will be presented and the implications for human medicine will be discussed.