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    Ancient sheep mtDNA from Northern Caucasus and Central Asia

    Genes 2017, 8(6), 165; doi:10.3390/genes8060165


    Endogenous Retroviral Insertions Indicate a Secondary Introduction of Domestic Sheep Lineages to the Caucasus and Central Asia between the Bronze and Iron Age

    Oskar Schroeder 1,2, Norbert Benecke 2, Kai Frölich 3, Zuogang Peng 4, Kai Kaniuth 5, Leonid Sverchkov 6, Sabine Reinhold 2, Andrey Belinskiy 7 and Arne Ludwig 1,*

    Received: 12 May 2017 / Accepted: 13 June 2017 / Published: 20 June 2017

    Abstract: Sheep were one of the first livestock species domesticated by humans. After initial domestication in the Middle East they were spread across Eurasia. The modern distribution of endogenous Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus insertions in domestic sheep breeds suggests that over the course of millennia, successive introductions of improved lineages and selection for wool quality occurred in the Mediterranean region and most of Asia. Here we present a novel ancient DNA approach using data of endogenous retroviral insertions in Bronze and Iron Age domestic sheep from the Caucasus and Pamir mountain areas. Our findings support a secondary introduction of wool sheep from the Middle East between the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age into most areas of Eurasia.

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