Tracing bloodlines for the roots of an age-old friendship

From Nature Index, 17 July 2016:

Performing a medical procedure on a live animal isn’t for a faint hearted researcher. So when a village dog in rural India bit Ryan Boyko’s thumb, he figured it was a small price to pay (although he got a tetanus shot to be safe) for the opportunity to explore some of the big questions of dog lovers — when and where did that special relationship between dog and human begin?

To answer these questions, Boyko and an international team of collaborators, led by his brother Professor Adam Boyko from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, took on a project that would make most vets blanch: to collect blood from 549 village dogs across 38 countries.

The aim was to map the dogs’ genetic relationships and through that, trace the history of dog domestication. Boyko, the CEO of dog DNA testing company, Embark Veterinary Inc, wanted to know “what makes dogs dogs and to what extent does that help us understand what makes people people?” Read more.

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