Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Cat genome reveals clues to domestication​​

November 10th 2014

Cats and humans have shared the same households for at least 9,000 years, but we still know very little about how our feline friends became domesticated. An analysis of the cat genome led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reveals some surprising clues.

The research appears Nov. 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Cats have a relatively recent history of domestication compared with dogs; canines arose from wolves over 30,000 years ago.

"Cats, unlike dogs, are really only semidomesticated," said senior author Wes Warren, PhD, associate professor of genetics at The Genome Institute at Washington University​. "They only recently split off from wild cats, and some even still breed with their wild relatives. So we were surprised to find DNA evidence of their domestication."

One way scientists can understand the genetics of domestication is to look at what parts of the genome are altered in response to living together with humans, Warren added.

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