As any dog lover knows, no two breeds are identical. Some dogs are perfect for sloppy kisses. Others make fierce guardians. Still others resemble tiny, fluffy toys. Now, two new studies by scientists at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and collaborators reveal the genomic differences beneath such canine characteristics.
In the December issue of Genome Research--a special issue devoted to dog genomes--TIGR researchers Ewen Kirkness and Wei Wang compared the genome sequences of two dogs, a standard poodle and a boxer. Finding key genetic differences between the two dogs, the researchers went on to compare those telltale genetic variations in the genomes from nine additional dog breeds--beagle, Labrador retriever, German shepherd, Italian greyhound, English shepherd, Bedlington terrier, Portuguese water dog, Alaskan malamute, and rottweiler--and five genomes of wild canids (four types of wolves and a coyote).
"This work demonstrates a significant amount of variation that you can see between individual dogs at the genomic level," says Kirkness, lead investigator of the project, funded by TIGR. "That variation can now be exploited to study the differences between dogs, their diseases, development and behaviors." More broadly, Kirkness adds, the comparisons illustrate evolutionary influences that can shape mammalian genomes.
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