Ancient genomic changes associated with domestication of the horse

Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ISSN 0036-8075

Volume 356, 6336, 2017

DOI:10.1126/science.aam5298, Dimensions: pub.1085077440, PMID: 28450643,



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  2. (2) Institut Jacques Monod, grid.461913.8
  3. (3) Laboratoire d’Anthropobiologie Moléculaire et d’Imagerie de Synthèse, CNRS UMR 5288, Université de Toulouse, Université Paul Sabatier, 31000 Toulouse, France
  4. (4) Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, grid.440522.5
  5. (5) University of Bern, grid.5734.5
  6. (6) Centre for Genomic Regulation, grid.11478.3b
  7. (7) Pompeu Fabra University, grid.5612.0
  8. (8) National High-Throughput DNA Sequencing Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
  9. (9) Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, Archéozoologie, Archéobotanique, Sociétés, Pratiques et Environnements (UMR 7209), 55 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
  10. (10) Agroscope, grid.417771.3
  11. (11) King Saud University, grid.56302.32
  12. (12) Branch of Institute of Archaeology Margulan, Republic Avenue 24-405, 010000 Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan
  13. (13) French National Centre for Scientific Research, grid.4444.0
  14. (14) Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, grid.424195.f
  15. (15) University of Potsdam, grid.11348.3f
  16. (16) Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, grid.418779.4
  17. (17) University of Strasbourg, grid.11843.3f
  18. (18) Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, grid.425902.8
  19. (19) Paris Descartes University, grid.10992.33


The genomic changes underlying both early and late stages of horse domestication remain largely unknown. We examined the genomes of 14 early domestic horses from the Bronze and Iron Ages, dating to between ~4.1 and 2.3 thousand years before present. We find early domestication selection patterns supporting the neural crest hypothesis, which provides a unified developmental origin for common domestic traits. Within the past 2.3 thousand years, horses lost genetic diversity and archaic DNA tracts introgressed from a now-extinct lineage. They accumulated deleterious mutations later than expected under the cost-of-domestication hypothesis, probably because of breeding from limited numbers of stallions. We also reveal that Iron Age Scythian steppe nomads implemented breeding strategies involving no detectable inbreeding and selection for coat-color variation and robust forelimbs.


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Times Cited: 89

Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 18.85

Relative Citation ratio (RCR): 5.4