Adapting to the high altitudes of Tibet

In a new study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, author Dong-Dong Wu, et. al., explored the genetic basis of high-altitude adaptation of Tibetan Mastiffs, which were originally domesticated from the Chinese native dogs of the plains.

Credit: © zuzule / Fotolia

Credit: © zuzule / Fotolia

The authors examined genome-wide mutations (called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs) of 32 Tibetan Mastiffs, and compared them to 20 Chinese native dogs and 14 grey wolves. Overall, they identified more than 120,000 SNPs, and in their analysis, narrowed these down to 16 genes that have undergone positive selection in mastiffs, with 12 of these relevant to high altitude adaption.

These candidate genes have been shown to be involved in energy production critical to high-altitude survival under low oxygen conditions.

For future studies, the authors will explore whole genome sequences from individual Tibetan Mastiffs to gain better insights into high-altitude adaptations and canine evolution.

Source:  EurekAlert! media statement

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