Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Special Collections Seminar Room
The STEM Speaker Series Presents
Ancient European Dog Genomes Reveal Continuity Since the Early Neolithic
by Dr. Krishna Veeramah, Department of Ecology and Evolution
Dogs were the first animal to be domesticated by humans, with all current evidence pointing to grey wolves as the likely ancestral species from which they descend. The oldest dog fossils that can be clearly distinguished from wolves are found in Germany around ~15kya, but the archaeological record is notoriously ambiguous, with contentious claims for much older specimens as far east as Siberia. More recently, analysis of genetic data from modern dogs has proved even more puzzling, with different groups suggesting Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia all as possible origins of dog domestication. This is in part a result of the confounding effect of the extreme bottlenecks introduced by Victorian breeding.
To understand the genetic relationship of ancient and modern dogs and the origins of dog domestication, Dr. Veeramah and his research team analysed whole genome sequences from the remains of two Neolithic dogs found at archaeological sites in Germany (aged around 7,000 years old and around 4,700 years old) and a third, previously described dog from Ireland (around 4,800 years old). They showed that ancient dogs and modern European dogs have common genetic roots, and there is a genetic continuity of domesticated dogs over the past 7,000 years from the Early Neolithic period to today. Based on these data, they propose that dog domestication took place between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago with a single geographical origin. In addition, they have begun to find evidence that selection for genes involved neural crest development were key for the process of dog domestication.
Dr. Krishna Veeramah joined the faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook as an Assistant Professor in January 2014 as part of the new initiative in human evolutionary biology. Dr. Veeramah is a primate genomicist and population geneticist, who received both his B.Sc. in 2003, and Ph.D. in 2008 from University College London. His Ph.D., conducted under the supervision of Mark Thomas, examined the distribution of genetic variation in Africans. He then moved to UCLA as part of John Novembre’s lab where he looked at the genetic architecture of European population isolates. In 2010 he joined Michael Hammer’s lab at the University of Arizona in order to lead a project comparing patterns of genomic variation on the autosomes and X chromosome in apes. At Stony Brook his research is focused on using genomic-scale data to understand the evolutionary genetics of human and non-human primates, contemporary evolution in Three-spined stickleback, the paleogenomics of Migration Period Europe and the evolutionary genetic basis of epilepsy.
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