Lifestyle Environment 11 Oct 2017 Dogs adapted to mala ...

Dogs adapted to malaria to stay on as human companions

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Oct 11, 2017, 2:43 pm IST
Updated Oct 11, 2017, 2:55 pm IST
New study now shows that dogs who were taken along to tropical regions adapted the same protective gene much like early humans.
The ‘convergent evolution’ was what helped dogs survive as man’s closest companion for thousands of years. (File Image: DC)
 The ‘convergent evolution’ was what helped dogs survive as man’s closest companion for thousands of years. (File Image: DC)

If we take a closer look at the history of mankind, we will find that once the dog was domesticated, they spread across the globe wherever humans migrated and settled.

As the early humans expanded from Eurasia, they developed genes that would help them survive harsh climates and diseases in new homelands.

 

A new study now shows that dogs who were taken along to tropical regions adapted the same protective gene much like early humans that helped them fight off deadly parasites like malaria.

The ‘convergent evolution’ was what helped dogs survive as man’s closest companion for thousands of years despite migrating from a different type of climate.

The research conducted by Yunnan University in Kunming, China, found genes in modern African village dogs that were similar to those of ancient breeds.

Speaking about it, lead author of the study, Dr Ya-ping Zhang, who spoke to Mail Online said, “In this study, we have identified genes associated with insulin secretion and sensitivity, immunity, angiogenesis and ultraviolet protection that showed adaptive selection.”

 

In their new study, the researchers sequenced the full genomes of 19 African village dogs from Nigeria.

They identified a number of potential genes that must have developed through recent natural selection.

The team found that one of these genes, 'ADGRE1', protects the dogs from a type of infection closely linked to the malaria virus, known as a 'plasmodium infection'.

According to the study, the gene boosts immune response in African dog cells infected with plasmodium parasites like malaria.

Researchers say that the findings hold importance because earlier studies the most apparent cases of convergent evolution between humans and dogs were in genes for digestion and metabolism, neurological process, and cancer.

 

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