Starchy diet may have transformed wolves to dogs
2013-01-25 0:00

By Tina Hesman Saey | ScienceNews.org

Even the most illustrious canine breeds can probably trace their heritage to junkyard dogs.

That’s the conclusion of a new study aimed at finding the genetic changes that transformed wild wolves into domesticated dogs. Dogs can digest carbohydrates better than wolves can, and gaining that ability may have been an important step in taming the animals, evolutionary geneticist Erik Axelsson of Uppsala University in Sweden and his colleagues report online January 23 in Nature. As humans settled into farming communities, wolves may have given up their meat-only diets to scavenge carbohydrate-rich food from garbage dumps. Animals that could best make use of the starchy food may gradually have morphed over generations into man’s best friend.

No one expected genes relating to digestion to be important for dog domestication, says Elaine Ostrander, chief of the National Human Genome Research Institute’s cancer genetics branch and an authority on dog genetics. Researchers previously thought that when wolves became domestic dogs, genes controlling behavior and the immune system must have changed.

The new study focuses on genetic differences between 60 dogs representing 14 breeds and 12 wolves from around the world. Those changes, the researchers reasoned, could identify genes that were important in separating dogs from wolves.

The researchers determined the genetic makeup of groups of dogs and compared the results to those from wolves, concentrating on parts of the genetic instruction book that differ between the two species. As they had expected, the researchers uncovered differences in many genes relating to the brain. But the search also revealed lots of genes involved in starch digestion and metabolism, and in the use of fats. Dogs, the team found, have more copies than wolves do of the AMY2B gene, which produces an enzyme that breaks starch into easily digestible sugars.

Other genetic variants seem to contribute to dogs’ increased ability to convert a sugar called maltose to glucose, the sugar that cells prefer to burn for energy. Yet other genetic changes improve dogs’ ability to move glucose into their cells. Combined, the tweaks alter dogs’ metabolism so they can get more energy out of a carbohydrate-rich diet than wolves can, the researchers conclude. The scientists confirmed the effect of the genetic variants by identifying biochemical differences in starch metabolism in blood and tissue samples from dogs and wolves.


[...]

Read the full article at: sciencenews.org








Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Barbara Lerner Spectre On Twitter!
2015-07-28 23:04
Kevin MacDonald writes in 2010: In the video below, Barbara Lerner Spectre, who runs a government-funded Jewish study group in Sweden, makes the following remarkable statement—remarkable because she does not attribute anti-Jewish attitudes to irrational prejudices or even Muslims who hate Israel. Instead she says that it’s because of the “leading role” played by Jews in the movement toward multiculturalism: “I think ...
Sweden investigating underwater wreckage as possible Russian submarine
2015-07-28 20:38
What may be the wreckage of a Russian submarine is seen off the coast of Sweden The Swedish military is studying a video taken by shipwreck hunters who say it shows a wrecked submarine, just off the country’s eastern coast, which appears to be Russian. Ocean X Team, the company behind the discovery, said on its website: “It is unclear how old ...
Literal Cuckservatives
2015-07-28 20:30
The Dissidenti™™ and their frazzled hall monitors buzzsaw with talk about “cuckservatives.” It’s the shiv du jour, you see. As shivs go, it is in this ‘umble narrator’s opinion one of the more lethal of the semantic shanks employed by dark realists. Lovers and haters of the Cuck Shiv gird for battle (well, the haters girdle for battle). The wielders love ...
The Inevitable - The Daily Beast Begins The Personal Attacks To Tear Down Trump….
2015-07-28 19:46
Only the politically naive didn’t see this coming. The liberal outlet “The Daily Beast” begins to attack Donald Trump personally, through a method of hiding behind citations in old books and manipulating content/context delivery to attack their target. The Daily Beast takes this very specific and very strategic approach because references to the statements/opinions of others  allows them to avoid libel and ...
Residents of Dresden Wake up to Find Overnight, City Park Has Been Turned Into Migrant Camp For 2,000
2015-07-27 23:34
The German city which dared to stand-up to their government’s policy of accepting Islamisation and mass migration appears to have been punished for dissent by the zero-notice imposition of a migrant camp. Government employees stood by the entrance of a city park in Dresden, Saxony on Thursday night handing out fliers to passers-by informing them the next day the green space, ...
More News »