University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna - Research portal

Diagrammed Link to Homepage University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

Genomic footprints of domestication in Old World camelids

During domestication, extensive artificial and natural selection has acted on the genomes of domestic animals. The adaptation to different environmental and anthropogenic pre-defined conditions has resulted in a huge diversity of phenotypes and breeds among our livestock species. Recent advances in whole-genome sequence analysis have made it possible to identify those changes that underlie the transformation process from a wild species to a domesticated. The aim of this project is to investigate for the first time genetic footprints of selection in domestic camels and their wild relatives. Old World camels (Camelini) are one of the most recent species to have been domesticated and today, only small populations of their wild relatives (Camelus ferus) exist in Mongolia and China. Contrary to other livestock animals that have been strongly selected for their specific single traits, the domestication of the “multi-purpose” camels has taken a different course, with little selection for features other than tameness and tolerance of humans. Thus, camels are ideal candidates to study mechanisms related to the “initial stage” of domestication. In our previous work we have detected remarkable variation in the DNA of dromedaries and Bactrian camels worldwide, which might reflect not only demographic expansion after an initial domestication but also ancestral diversity. Based on these observations we hypothesize that (H1) the camel genome has been shaped by recent anthropogenic selection (domestication) leaving signals in specific regions, which are discernable by comparative analyses of wild and domestic two-humped camels and dromedaries as well as pre-domestic specimens; and (H2) independently of domestication, the evolutionary history of Old World camels has been driven by random processes and environmental adaption with genetic footprints over the whole genome.With this project we expect to gain insights into the genetic mechanisms underlying the domestication process in general and specifically in camels. By defining candidate genes for domestication in camels and comparing them with functional important regions in other mammalian genomes we will increase our knowledge of functional genomics. Our results about the evolutionary history of the Camelini will contribute to the in-situ conservation of the highly endangered wild camels in Mongolia and China, and to the scientific and economic value of the most important domestic species in (semi-) arid regions with increasing desertification.
Statistik Austria science classification
106003         Biodiversity research
106005         Bioinformatics
106036         Population genetics
Project leader
Burger Pamela
Type of Research
Basic research
Vetmed Research Units
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology
Funded by
FWF - Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria

Link To Project Finder
13 Publications

Lado, S; Elbers, JP; Doskocil, A; Scaglione, D; Trucchi, E; Banabazi, MH; Almathen, F; Saitou, N; Ciani, E; Burger, PA (2020): Genome-wide diversity and global migration patterns in dromedaries follow ancient caravan routes. Commun Biol. 2020; 3(1):387
Open Access Logo

Fitak, RR; Mohandesan, E; Corander, J; Yadamsuren, A; Chuluunbat, B; Abdelhadi, O; Raziq, A; Nagy, P; Walzer, C; Faye, B; Burger, PA (2020): Genomic signatures of domestication in Old World camels. Commun Biol. 2020; 3(1):316
Open Access Logo

Mohandesan, E; Fitak, RR; Corander, J; Yadamsuren, A; Chuluunbat, B; Abdelhadi, O; Raziq, A; Nagy, P; Stalder, G; Walzer, C; Faye, B; Burger, PA (2017): Mitogenome Sequencing in the Genus Camelus Reveals Evidence for Purifying Selection and Long-term Divergence between Wild and Domestic Bactrian Camels. Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):9970
Open Access Logo

Almathen, F; Charruau, P; Mohandesan, E; Mwacharo, JM; Orozco-terWengel, P; Pitt, D; Abdussamad, AM; Uerpmann, M; Uerpmann, HP; De Cupere, B; Magee, P; Alnaqeeb, MA; Salim, B; Raziq, A; Dessie, T [and 9 others] (2016): Ancient and modern DNA reveal dynamics of domestication and cross-continental dispersal of the dromedary. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016; 113(24):6707-6712
Open Access Logo

Burger, PA (2016): The history of Old World camelids in the light of molecular genetics. Trop Anim Health Prod. 2016; 48(5):905-913
Open Access Logo

Plasil, M; Mohandesan, E; Fitak, RR; Musilova, P; Kubickova, S; Burger, PA; Horin, P (2016): The major histocompatibility complex in Old World camelids and low polymorphism of its class II genes. BMC Genomics. 2016; 17(1):167
Open Access Logo

Fitak, RR; Mohandesan, E; Corander, J; Burger, PA (2016): The de novo genome assembly and annotation of a female domestic dromedary of North African origin. Mol Ecol Resour. 2016; 16(1):314-324
Open Access Logo

Ruiz, E; Mohandesan, E; Fitak, RR; Burger, PA (2015): Diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphism markers to identify hybridization between dromedary and Bactrian camels. Conserv Genet Resour. 2015; 7(2):329-332
Open Access Logo

Galik, A; Mohandesan, E; Forstenpointner, G; Scholz, UM; Ruiz, E; Krenn, M; Burger, P (2015): A sunken ship of the desert at the river Danube in Tulln, Austria. PLoS One. 2015; 10(4):e0121235
Open Access Logo

Chuluunbat, B; Charruau, P; Silbermayr, K; Khorloojav, T; Burger, PA (2014): Genetic diversity and population structure of Mongolian domestic Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus). Anim Genet. 2014; 45(4):550-558
Open Access Logo

Trinks, A; Burger, P; Benecke, N; Burger, J (2012): Ancient DNA Reveals Domestication Process: The Case of the Two-Humped Camel. IN: Knoll, EM [Hrsg.]: Camels in Asia and North Africa. Wien, ÖAW, pp. 79-86. ISBN: 978-3-7001-7244-4.

Silbermayr, K; Burger, P (2012): Hybridization: A Threat to the Genetic Distinctiveness of the Last Wild Old World Camel Species. IN: Knoll, EM [Hrsg.]: Camels in Asia and North Africa. Wien, ÖAW, pp. 69-76. ISBN: 978-3-7001-7244-4.

Burger, P (2012): Genetic Traces of Domestication in Old World Camelids. IN: Knoll, EM [Hrsg.]: Camels in Asia and North Africa. Wien, ÖAW, pp. 17-28. ISBN: 978-3-7001-7244-4.

© University of Veterinary Medicine ViennaHelp and Downloads