June 14 2017

12:00 LSB 2320

Bridgett Vonholdt
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University

Everyone in the world is my friend! Everyone in the world is my friend!


Although considerable progress has been made in understanding the genetic basis of morphologic traits in dogs and wolves, the genetic basis of their behavioral divergence is poorly understood. An integrative approach utilizing both behavioral and genetic data is required to understand the molecular underpinnings of the various behavioral characteristics associated with domestication. I will present findings on a study where we analyzed a 5Mb genomic region on canine chromosome 6, a region that was previously found to be under positive selection in domestic dog breeds. Deletion of this region in humans is linked to Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), a multi-system congenital disorder characterized by hyper-social behavior. We associated quantitative data on behavioral phenotypes symptomatic of WBS in humans with structural changes in the WBS locus in dogs. We found that hyper-sociability typical of WBS is also a core element of domestication that distinguishes dogs from wolves. We provide evidence that structural variants in genes previously implicated in the behavioral phenotype of patients with WBS and contained within the WBS locus, contribute to extreme sociability in dogs. This finding suggests that there are commonalities in the genetic architecture of WBS and canine tameness, and that directional selection may have targeted a unique set of linked behavioral genes of large phenotypic effect, allowing for rapid behavioral divergence of dog and wolf, facilitating co-existence with humans.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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