Ardalan A, Kluetsch CF, Zhang AB, Erdogan M, Uhlén M, Houshmand M, Tepeli C, Ashtiani SR, Savolainen P
Ecol Evol 1 (3) 373-385 [2011-11-00; online 2012-03-07]
Studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diversity indicate explicitly that dogs were domesticated, probably exclusively, in southern East Asia. However, Southwest Asia (SwAsia) has had poor representation and geographical coverage in these studies. Other studies based on archaeological and genome-wide SNP data have suggested an origin of dogs in SwAsia. Hence, it has been suspected that mtDNA evidence for this scenario may have remained undetected. In the first comprehensive investigation of genetic diversity among SwAsian dogs, we analyzed 582 bp of mtDNA for 345 indigenous dogs from across SwAsia, and compared with 1556 dogs across the Old World. We show that 97.4% of SwAsian dogs carry haplotypes belonging to a universal mtDNA gene pool, but that only a subset of this pool, five of the 10 principal haplogroups, is represented in SwAsia. A high frequency of haplogroup B, potentially signifying a local origin, was not paralleled with the high genetic diversity expected for a center of origin. Meanwhile, 2.6% of the SwAsian dogs carried the rare non-universal haplogroup d2. Thus, mtDNA data give no indication that dogs originated in SwAsia through independent domestication of wolf, but dog-wolf hybridization may have formed the local haplogroup d2 within this region. Southern East Asia remains the only region with virtually full extent of genetic variation, strongly indicating it to be the primary and probably sole center of wolf domestication. An origin of dogs in southern East Asia may have been overlooked by other studies due to a substantial lack of samples from this region.