Interspecific Gene Flow Shaped the Evolution of the Genus Canis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2018Researchpeer-review



  • Author: Gopalakrishnan, Shyam

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Sinding, Mikkel Holger Strander

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Ramos-Madrigal, Jazmín

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Niemann, Jonas

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Samaniego Castruita, Jose Alfredo

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Vieira, Filipe G.

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Carøe, Christian

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Montero, Marc de Manuel

    Pompeu Fabra University

  • Author: Kuderna, Lukas F. K.

    Pompeu Fabra University

  • Author: Serres, Aitor

    Pompeu Fabra University

  • Author: González-Basallote, Víctor Manuel

    Pompeu Fabra University

  • Author: Liu, Yan Hu

    Yunnan University

  • Author: Wang, Guo Dong

    CAS - Kunming Institute of Zoology

  • Author: Marques-Bonet, Tomas

    Pompeu Fabra University

  • Author: Mirarab, Siavash

    University of California at San Diego

  • Author: Fernandes de Oliveira, Carlos Augusto

    University of Lisbon

  • Author: Gaubert, Philippe

    Universite de Montpellier

  • Author: Koepfli, Klaus Peter

    St. Petersburg State University

  • Author: Budd, Jane

    Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife

  • Author: Rueness, Eli Knispel

    University of Oslo

  • Author: Heide-Jørgensen, Mads Peter

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Petersen, Bent

    Metagenomics, Department of Bio and Health Informatics, Technical University of Denmark, Kemitorvet, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Sicheritz-Ponten, Thomas

    Department of Bio and Health Informatics, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark

  • Author: Bachmann, Lutz

    University of Oslo

  • Author: Wiig, Øystein

    University of Oslo

  • Author: Hansen, Anders J.

    University of Copenhagen

  • Author: Gilbert, M. Thomas P.

    University of Copenhagen

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The evolutionary history of the wolf-like canids of the genus Canis has been heavily debated, especially regarding the number of distinct species and their relationships at the population and species level [1–6]. We assembled a dataset of 48 resequenced genomes spanning all members of the genus Canis except the black-backed and side-striped jackals, encompassing the global diversity of seven extant canid lineages. This includes eight new genomes, including the first resequenced Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), one dhole (Cuon alpinus), two East African hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus), two Eurasian golden jackals (Canis aureus), and two Middle Eastern gray wolves (Canis lupus). The relationships between the Ethiopian wolf, African golden wolf, and golden jackal were resolved. We highlight the role of interspecific hybridization in the evolution of this charismatic group. Specifically, we find gene flow between the ancestors of the dhole and African hunting dog and admixture between the gray wolf, coyote (Canis latrans), golden jackal, and African golden wolf. Additionally, we report gene flow from gray and Ethiopian wolves to the African golden wolf, suggesting that the African golden wolf originated through hybridization between these species. Finally, we hypothesize that coyotes and gray wolves carry genetic material derived from a “ghost” basal canid lineage. Gopalakrishnan et al. present evidence of pervasive gene flow among species of the genus Canis. In addition to previously known admixture events, they find evidence of gene flow from a “ghost” canid, related to the dhole, into the ancestor of the gray wolf and coyote. Further, they suggest that the African golden wolf is a species of hybrid origin.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number21
Pages (from-to)3441-3449
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • African golden wolf, African hunting dog, Canid hybridization, Canid phylogeography, Ethiopian wolf, Gray wolf, Phylogenomics

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