University of Oulu

Heikkinen, M. E., Ruokonen, M., White, T. A., Alexander, M. M., Gündüz, İ., Dobney, K. M., Aspi, J., Searle, J. B., & Pyhäjärvi, T. (2020). Long-Term Reciprocal Gene Flow in Wild and Domestic Geese Reveals Complex Domestication History. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, 10(9), 3061–3070.

Long-term reciprocal gene flow in wild and domestic geese reveals complex domestication history

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Author: Heikkinen, Marja E.1,2; Ruokonen, Minna1; White, Thomas A.1,3;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, PO Box 3000, Fi-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853
3CMPG, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
4University of York, BioArCh, Environment Building, Wentworth Way, Heslington, York, YO10 5NG, UK
5Department of Biology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University of Ondokuz Mayis, Samsun, Turkey
6Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, 12–14 Abercromby Square, Liverpool L69 7WZ, UK
7Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, St Mary’s, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen, AB24 3UF, UK
8Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6, 778-782-419, Canada
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Genetics Society of America, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-09-11


Hybridization has frequently been observed between wild and domestic species and can substantially impact genetic diversity of both counterparts. Geese show some of the highest levels of interspecific hybridization across all bird orders, and two of the goose species in the genus Anser have been domesticated providing an excellent opportunity for a joint study of domestication and hybridization. Until now, knowledge of the details of the goose domestication process has come from archaeological findings and historical writings supplemented with a few studies based on mitochondrial DNA. Here, we used genome-wide markers to make the first genome-based inference of the timing of European goose domestication. We also analyzed the impact of hybridization on the genome-wide genetic variation in current populations of the European domestic goose and its wild progenitor: the graylag goose (Anser anser). Our dataset consisted of 58 wild graylags sampled around Eurasia and 75 domestic geese representing 14 breeds genotyped for 33,527 single nucleotide polymorphisms. Demographic reconstruction and clustering analysis suggested that divergence between wild and domestic geese around 5,300 generations ago was followed by long-term genetic exchange, and that graylag populations have 3.2–58.0% admixture proportions with domestic geese, with distinct geographic patterns. Surprisingly, many modern European breeds share considerable (> 10%) ancestry with the Chinese domestic geese that is derived from the swan goose Anser cygnoid. We show that the domestication process can progress despite continued and pervasive gene flow from the wild form.

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Series: G3. Genes, genomes, genetics
ISSN: 2160-1836
ISSN-E: 2160-1836
ISSN-L: 2160-1836
Volume: 10
Issue: 9
Pages: 3061 - 3070
DOI: 10.1534/g3.120.400886
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (grant no. 131673 to MR, grant no 283609 to JA and grant no. 287431 to TP); and the Cornell Center for Comparative and Population Genomics (3CPG) to JBS. The Emil Aaltonen Foundation and Oulun läänin talousseuran maataloussäätiö are acknowledged for the personal grants awarded to MEH.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 287431
Detailed Information: 287431 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 Heikkinen et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.