News from IBE (CSIC-UPF)
Since the horse was domesticated, about 5,500 years ago, the invention of the chariots and the horsemenship helped transform human civilization, but also the horses themselves deeply. Locomotion, physiology and cognition changed these animals adapt to human societies, thereby making a high number of genetic mutations. An international study that has involved the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, joint center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the University Pompeu Fabra, has identified a set of 125 genes in horses potentially related to the process of taming.
To do this, the researchers, who have published their research in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), compared the genomes of two ancient horse fossils found in Taymyr (Russia), a modern domestic horse and the Mongolian wild horse, also known as Przewalski horse.
"Another thing we've seen is that domestication is associated with inbreeding and excessive harmful mutations. This is what we call 'costs of domestication', which is also seen in other living beings, like dogs, tomatoes and rice. It is usually a result of relaxation of natural selection because of demographic bottlenecks associated with domestication," says the researcher Tomas Marques-Bonet, ICREA researcher and head of the Laboratory of Comparative Genomics of IBE (UPF -CSIC).
Mikkel Schubert, et.al. Prehistoric genomes reveal the genetic foundation and cost of horse domestication. PNAS, December 15, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1416991111