Poster Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

Whole genome sequencing reveals the complex phylogeography of canids (#629)

Shyam Gopalakrishnan 1 , Mikkel Sinding 1 , Jose Samaniego 1 , Marcus Thomas Gilbert
  1. Natural History Museum, Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark

The study of wolves and dogs offers a great opportunity to understand the origin of new species through domestication,and their interactions with the parental species. Much effort has been devoted to the study of dogs and their domestication. Conversely, fewer samples and resources has led to gaps in our understanding of the evolutionary history of wolves. One of the important questions that remains unanswered is the relationship between the wolf subspecies and their relationships to other canids such as african wolves and golden jackals (Rueness et al. 2011). Much of our knowledge about these relationships is from mtDNA, which offers limited information (Vila et al. 1999).

To address this question, we have sequenced the genomes of several canids, including more than 25 wolves sampled from across Europe, the middle east and Africa, 2 hunting dogs and 2 golden jackals. Combining these sequenced genomes with publicly available canid genomes, we used more than 50 whole genomes to construct a well resolved phylogeny of the canids of the world, allowing us to investigate the relationships between the basal canids. For the purposes of this study, we assembled a de-novo wolf reference genome.

Preliminary results show interesting patterns in the position of wolves that have previously been shown to be mitochondrially interesting, such as the Indian, Afghan, Saudi and Mongolian wolves. We also explore the relationships between African wolves, gray wolves and Golden jackals. Results and data from this study will be valuable in answering further questions such as the timing and location of dog domestication, and local admixture between dogs and wolves.


  1. Vilà, C., Amorim, I. R., Leonard, J. A., Posada, D., Castroviejo, J., Petrucci-Fonseca, F., Crandall, K. A., Ellegren, H. and Wayne, R. K. (1999), Mitochondrial DNA phylogeography and population history of the grey wolf Canis lupus. Molecular Ecology, 8: 2089–2103.
  2. Rueness EK, Asmyhr MG, Sillero-Zubiri C, Macdonald DW, Bekele A, et al. (2011) The Cryptic African Wolf: Canis aureus lupaster Is Not a Golden Jackal and Is Not Endemic to Egypt. PLoS ONE 6(1): e16385.