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Journal Articles Science Year : 2022

The genomic history and global expansion of domestic donkeys

Lucía Pérez Pardal
Laura Patterson Rosa
Harald Ringbauer
  • Function : Author
Marta Verdugo
John Southon
  • Function : Author
Aude Perdereau
Emmanuelle Vila
Matilde Marzullo
Ornella Prato
  • Function : Author
Umberto Tecchiati
Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni
  • Function : Author
Antonio Tagliacozzo
Vincenzo Tinè
  • Function : Author
Francesca Alhaique
João Luís Cardoso
  • Function : Author
Maria João Valente
  • Function : Author
Miguel Telles Antunes
  • Function : Author
Laurent Frantz
Beth Shapiro
Daniel Bradley
Nicolas Boulbes
Armelle Gardeisen
Liora Kolska Horwitz
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Aliye Öztan
  • Function : Author
Benjamin Arbuckle
Vedat Onar
Ali Akbar Vahdati
Hossein Davoudi
Patrick Wincker
Samantha Brooks
Albano Beja-Pereira
Dong-Dong Wu


Donkeys transformed human history as essential beasts of burden for long-distance movement, especially across semi-arid and upland environments. They remain insufficiently studied despite globally expanding and providing key support to low- to middle-income communities. To elucidate their domestication history, we constructed a comprehensive genome panel of 207 modern and 31 ancient donkeys, as well as 15 wild equids. We found a strong phylogeographic structure in modern donkeys that supports a single domestication in Africa ~5000 BCE, followed by further expansions in this continent and Eurasia and ultimately returning to Africa. We uncover a previously unknown genetic lineage in the Levant ~200 BCE, which contributed increasing ancestry toward Asia. Donkey management involved inbreeding and the production of giant bloodlines at a time when mules were essential to the Roman economy and military.
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Dates and versions

hal-03827857 , version 1 (06-12-2023)



Evelyn Todd, Laure Tonasso-Calvière, Loreleï Chauvey, Stéphanie Schiavinato, Antoine Fages, et al.. The genomic history and global expansion of domestic donkeys. Science, 2022, 377 (6611), pp.1172-1180. ⟨10.1126/science.abo3503⟩. ⟨hal-03827857⟩
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