The Molecular Ecologist: Domesticated genes answer the call of the wild

Soay sheep on Hirta, St Kilda, with Cleits Wild Soay sheep, in an assortment of colors. Photo by Commonorgarden.

This week at the Molecular Ecologist, I’m discussing a new study from the blog’s parent publication, Molecular Ecology, which traces the origins of gene variants in a wild population of Soay sheep … back to domestic sheep.

The Soay sheep haven’t been completely isolated from other breeds. In recent centuries, they shared the Saint Kilda islands with humans, who kept domesticated sheep—providing several hundred years of opportunity for what geneticists call “an admixture event,” and everyone else calls “sex,” between the Soay breed and those domesticated sheep.

To learn how the study’s authors pinpointed the origin of the domestic genes variants, and how those variants have fared in the wild sheep, go read the whole thing.◼