Red fox genome may reveal domestication secrets | Science News


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The first detailed map of red foxes’ DNA may reveal domestication secrets

For nearly 60 years, scientists in Russia have bred tame and aggressive Vulpes vulpes

11:00am, August 6, 2018
red fox with a silver coat

FOXY FRIEND  A nearly 60-year program in Russia has bred tamer and tamer red foxes, including variants like this with a silver coat, that behave much like domestic dogs.

For nearly 60 years, scientists in Siberia have bred silver foxes in an attempt to replay how domestication occurred thousands of years ago. Now, in a first, researchers have compiled the genetic instruction book, or genome, of Vulpes vulpes, the red fox species that includes the silver-coated variant. This long-awaited study of the foxes’ DNA may reveal genetic changes that drove domestication of animals such as cats and dogs, the team reports online August 6 in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

At the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk, Russia, researchers bred one group of foxes for ever-tamer behavior, while another group was bred for increasing aggressiveness toward humans (SN: 5/13/17, p. 29). Rif, the male silver fox whose DNA

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