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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  1. I found this extremely interesting because the more research that is done we will be able to know why some dogs react the way they do to humans. We will also be able to possibly figure out more about autism and Alzheimer's from the studying of the SorCS1 gene.

  2. My mother loves dogs, in particular Golden's. I think they do have that genome somewhere in them when I look at him. he seems sometimes super defensive to strangers like an undomesticated dog. resembling the genome behind him that makes his brain think like his ancestors. I also think that that the domesticated dog gene s much better that the one its ancestors had. Dogs are important for humans and new domesticated dog breeds have evolved from aggressive foxes.

  3. This article was a really interesting read! I've heard about Belyaev's research before, so it immediately stood out to me. His research most likely will increase our understanding of the history of how dogs were domesticated and how genetics plays a role in animal behavior. Genetics plays a role in animal behavior, such as the SorCS1 gene in foxes, but it's possible that socialization is also a very important factor. These factors could also explain why many breeds of dogs require socialization at very early ages, since it is usually a combination of nature and nurture that affects the disposition of many organisms.