Wednesday, October 10, 2018
What DNA From Pets Teaches us About Dogs-And Humans
For about 60 years Russian scientists have been breeding foxes to be domesticated and wild. They have been doing this to study the different genomes from the tamed and aggressive. This study started back in 1959, to understand how dogs became domesticated by a scientist named Dmitri Belyaev. To try and domesticate foxes he would breed the tame with the tame to make each generation even more comfortable and not scared to be around humans. Belyaev hypothesized "the biological changes in domesticated animals—white spots, curled tails, floppy ears, shortened skulls—were the result of an evolutionary selection process over behavioral traits rather than anatomical ones." He then tested his hypothesis and found that he breed tamed, friendly, fearless foxes with each other and found the offspring were fine around humans, and also exhibited different traits than the wild/ aggressive foxes. the tamed showed characteristics of white spots, curly tails, floppy ears, and more. Although Belyayev passed in 1985 the research still continues.
More than 40 generations of friendly and aggresive foxes have been breed. Allowing scientists to have a fully sequenced fox genome. By having the fully sequenced fox genome they were able to see that friendly foxes have a version of the gene SorCS1 that did not appear in aggressive foxes. The version of the SorCS1 gene found in the aggressive foxes was actually a gene that is associated with autism and Alzheimer's in humans. previous studies on mice have showed that this gene has to do with formation and neuronal signaling. These previous studies help show that the SorCS1 gene may have influence on behavior. Domesticated animals do not get as stressed when approached by unfamiliar humans like wild animals do, this may be because of a blunt response in the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA). Which is what stress activates in brain and what responses come from it. There is still a lot of research to be done to understand completely since some dogs, even though having strong bonds with their owners can still be very aggressive. This is very important research in my opinion since dogs are a very popular pet in many households, and this research can help people to understand why some breeds are considered "bully breeds" and some are not.
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