Broad maternal geographic origin of domestic sheep in Anatolia and the Zagros

Charlotte Her, Hamid Reza Rezaei, Sandrine Hughes, Saeid Naderi, Marilyne Duffraisse, Marjan Mashkour, Hamid Reza Naghash, Adrian Bălășescu, Gordon Luikart, Steve Jordan, Deniz Özüt, Aykut Kence, Michael W. Bruford, Anne Tresset, Jean Denis Vigne, Pierre Taberlet, Catherine Hänni, François Pompanon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We investigated the controversial origin of domestic sheep (Ovis aries) using large samples of contemporary and ancient domestic individuals and their closest wild relatives: the Asiatic mouflon (Ovis gmelini), the urial (Ovis vignei) and the argali (Ovis ammon). A phylogeny based on mitochondrial DNA, including 213 new cytochrome-b sequences of wild Ovism confirmed that O. gmelini is the maternal ancestor of sheep and precluded mtDNA contributions from O. vignei (and O. gmelini × O. vignei hybrids) to domestic lineages. We also produced 54 new control region sequences showing shared haplogroups (A, B, C and E) between domestic sheep and wild O. gmelini which localized the domestication center in eastern Anatolia and central Zagros, excluding regions further east where exclusively wild haplogroups were found. This overlaps with the geographic distribution of O. gmelini gmelini, further suggesting that the maternal origin of domestic sheep derives from this subspecies. Additionally, we produced 57 new CR sequences of Neolithic sheep remains from a large area covering Anatolia to Europe, showing the early presence of at least three mitochondrial haplogroups (A, B and D) in Western colonization routes. This confirmed that sheep domestication was a large-scale process that captured diverse maternal lineages (haplogroups).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-459
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • ancient DNA
  • animal domestication
  • area of early domestication
  • maternal genetic origins
  • mitochondrial DNA
  • phylogeny
  • sheep ancestor
  • wild sheep


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