News Release

Japanese wolves are most closely related to dogs and share DNA with East Eurasian dogs

Peer-Reviewed Publication

The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI

Phylogenetic relationships between Japanese wolves and other wolves/dogs.


Phylogenetic relationships between Japanese wolves and other wolves/dogs.

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Credit: Nature Communications

In this study, we determined nine genomes of Japanese wolves and 11 genomes of modern Japanese dogs at high coverage and analyzed with one hundred dog and wolf genomes in the public database. The analyses showed that 1) the Japanese wolf was a unique subspecies of the gray wolf that is genetically distinct from both extant and ancient gray wolves known to date, 2) the Japanese wolf is most closely related to the monophyletic group of dogs. Furthermore, 3) Japanese wolf ancestry has introgressed into the ancestor of East Eurasian dogs at an early stage of the dog’s history after diverging from the West Eurasian lineages. The genome derived from Japanese wolf ancestry has been inherited by many modern dogs (at most 5.5%), even in the West Eurasian lineages, through admixture with East Eurasian lineages. Based on phylogenetic and geographic relationships, the dog lineage has originated most likely in East Asia, where it diverged from a common ancestor with the Japanese wolf.

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