Biodiv Sci ›› 2009, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (4): 319-329.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09150

Special Issue: 保护生物学: 现状和挑战

• Special Issue •     Next Articles

Advances in research of the origin and domestication of domestic animals

Jing Li1,2, Yaping Zhang1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resources, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091
    2 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223
  • Received:2009-06-11 Accepted:2009-06-26 Online:2009-07-20 Published:2009-07-20
  • Contact: Yaping Zhang


Animal domestication was one of the major contributory factors of the agricultural revolution during the Neolithic period, which resulted in a shift of paradigm in the contemporary lifestyle of human from hunting to farming. Research on the origin and domestication of animals is helpful not merely to understand the historical as well as societal transformation of human and the process of animal evolution under the influence of artificial selection but also to formulate the strategies for improving breeding varieties and conservation of domestic animals genetic diversity. Thus researches in this domain have received attention for a long time. In recent years, more archeological evidences coupled with recent developments in the molecular genetics approaches have led to a better understanding of the origin and the underlying process of domestication of animals. In this review, we attempt to state the recent progresses in the research methodologies and breakthroughs in molecular understanding of the basic issues related to the origin and subsequent domestication of animals. The first part of the paper deals with the wild ancestors of domestic animals, the sites of origin and time, the founders and the expansion routes. The second part refers to the conditions that had influenced the domestication process, the traits variation and the underlying genetic mechanisms. Finally, several shortcomings of the previous studies have been highlighted and the challenges and strategies for future direction of research have also been discussed.

Key words: origin, domestication, archaeology, molecular genetics