PerspectiveEvolution

On the origin of Peter Rabbit

Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 1000-1001
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258775

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Summary

Which genetic changes occur when animals are domesticated, or selectively bred in order to increase the frequency of characteristics that humans find desirable? Studies aiming to address this question can not only reveal the biological basis of important phenotypes, but also provide a glimpse into the mechanisms of rapid evolutionary change. On page 1074 of this issue, Carneiro et al. (1) report a population genomic study of rabbit domestication that shows that there is no single “domestication gene.” Rather, many genetic variants across the genome have been affected by natural selection throughout domestication. Further, these variants tend to be in regulatory regions located in genes related to brain development.