November 14, 2008

mtDNA and goat domestication

Wikiedia artiles on goat and bezoar.

The lowly goat (aiga) has played a great role in Greek history: the Aegean Sea (from Aegeus, the father of Theseus) is named after it. So were Aigai, the ancient Macedonian capital coinciding with the archaeological site of Vergina. The ancestor of the Dorians was King Aegimius, whose mythological story of contact with Hercules parallels the historical relationship between the Dorians and their Heraclid rulers. The Aegos Potami (goat rivers) is one of many aig- sites, famous among other things as the landing site of a meteor, according to the Parian Marble.

And, of course, the he-goat (tragos), associated with the god Dionysus, played its role in the Greek invention of theater, and in particular tragedy by Thespis.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]

The goat domestication process inferred from large-scale mitochondrial DNA analysis of wild and domestic individuals.
Naderi S, Rezaei HR, Pompanon F, Blum MG, Negrini R, Naghash HR, Balkiz O, Mashkour M, Gaggiotti OE, Ajmone-Marsan P, Kence A, Vigne JD, Taberlet P.

The emergence of farming during the Neolithic transition, including the domestication of livestock, was a critical point in the evolution of human kind. The goat (Capra hircus) was one of the first domesticated ungulates. In this study, we compared the genetic diversity of domestic goats to that of the modern representatives of their wild ancestor, the bezoar, by analyzing 473 samples collected over the whole distribution range of the latter species. This partly confirms and significantly clarifies the goat domestication scenario already proposed by archaeological evidence. All of the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups found in current domestic goats have also been found in the bezoar. The geographic distribution of these haplogroups in the wild ancestor allowed the localization of the main domestication centers. We found no haplotype that could have been domesticated in the eastern half of the Iranian Plateau, nor further to the east. A signature of population expansion in bezoars of the C haplogroup suggests an early domestication center on the Central Iranian Plateau (Yazd and Kerman Provinces) and in the Southern Zagros (Fars Province), possibly corresponding to the management of wild flocks. However, the contribution of this center to the current domestic goat population is rather low (1.4%). We also found a second domestication center covering a large area in Eastern Anatolia, and possibly in Northern and Central Zagros. This last domestication center is the likely origin of almost all domestic goats today. This finding is consistent with archaeological data identifying Eastern Anatolia as an important domestication center.


1 comment:

Dean said...

More on the Greek goat culture: I recently heard some Greek music from southern Albania. I never heard this music before. The music is monophonic, with a woman singing lead and a group of men singing single notes behind her, which include goat sounds.