The team discovered new details of Sus scrofa evolution after the ancestors of the domestic pig, which most resembled today's wild boars, first emerged in Southeast Asia and gradually migrated across Eurasia.
Comparisons of Asian and European wild boars revealed significant genetic differences, the result of their separating from one another roughly 1 million years ago, said University of Illinois Vice President for Research Lawrence Schook, a principal investigator on the study.
"They have been separated so long that the Asian and European lineages are almost sub-species now," Schook said. The European and Asian wild boars lost a lot of genetic diversity about 20,000 years ago, likely as a result of a global glaciation event.
Comparisons of domestic and wild pigs also "revealed a clear distinction between European and Asian breeds," the researchers wrote. This adds to the evidence that "pigs were independently domesticated in western Eurasia and East Asia."
"We had evidence from previous studies, but those studies focused on the mitochondrial DNA, a small DNA molecule only inherited from the mother," said Wageningen University professor Martien Groenen, also a principal investigator on the study. "With the complete genome sequence of multiple wild boars we now have a much clearer picture about these events."
|Contact: Diana Yates|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign