Prehistoric genomes reveal the genetic foundation and cost of horse domestication

Mikkel Schubert, Hákon Jáónsson, Dan Chang, Clio Der Sarkissian, Luca Ermini, Auráóélien Ginolhac, Anders Albrechtsen, Isabelle Dupanloup, Adrien Foucal, Bent Petersen, Matteo Fumagalli, Maanasa Raghavan, Andaine Seguin-Orlando, Thorfinn S. Korneliussen, Amhed M. V. Velazquez, Jesper Stenderup, Cindi A. Hoover, Carl-Johan Rubin, Ahmed H. Alfarhan, Saleh A. AlquraishiKhaled A. S. Al-Rasheid, David E. MacHugh, Ted Kalbfleisch, James N. MacLeod, Edward M. Rubin, Thomas Sicheritz-Pontén, Leif Andersson, Michael Hofreiter, Tomas Marques-Bonet, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Rasmus Nielsen, Laurent Excoffier, Eske Willerslev, Beth Shapiro, Ludovic Orlando

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Significance The domestication of the horse revolutionized warfare, trade, and the exchange of people and ideas. This at least 5,500-y-long process, which ultimately transformed wild horses into the hundreds of breeds living today, is difficult to reconstruct from archeological data and modern genetics alone. We therefore sequenced two complete horse genomes, predating domestication by thousands of years, to characterize the genetic footprint of domestication. These ancient genomes reveal predomestic population structure and a significant fraction of genetic variation shared with the domestic breeds but absent from Przewalski’s horses. We find positive selection on genes involved in various aspects of locomotion, physiology, and cognition. Finally, we show that modern horse genomes contain an excess of deleterious mutations, likely representing the genetic cost of domestication.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1416991111
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    Issue number52
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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