1997 Volume 72 Issue 4 Pages 229-238
To test the hypothesis that the domestic dogs are derived from several different ancestral gray wolf populations, we compared the sequence of the displacement (D)-loop region of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 24 breeds of domestic dog (34 individual dogs) and 3 subspecies of gray wolf (Canis lupus lupus, C. l. pallipes and C. l. chanco; 19 individuals). The intraspecific sequence variations within domestic dogs (0.00~3.19%) and within wolves (0.00~2.88%) were comparable to the interspecific variations between domestic dogs and wolves (0.30~3.35%). A repetitive sequence with repeat units (TACACGTA/GCG) that causes the size variation in the D-loop region was also found in both dogs and wolves. However, no nucleotide substitutions or repetitive arrays were specific for domestic dogs or for wolves. These results showed that there is a close genetic relationship between dogs and wolves. Two major clades appeared in the phylogenetic trees constructed by neighbor-joining and by the maximum parsimony method; one clade containing Chinese wolf (C. l. chanco) showed extensive variations while the other showed only slight variation. This showed that there were two major genetic components both in domestic dogs and in wolves. However, neither clades nor haplotypes specific for any dog breed were observed, whereas subspecies-specific clades were found in Asiatic wolves. These results suggested that the extant breeds of domestic dogs have maintained a large degree of mtDNA polymorphisms introduced from their ancestral wolf populations, and that extensive interbreedings had occurred among multiple matriarchal origins.