Paternal Origins and Migratory Episodes of Domestic Sheep

Juan Deng, Xing Long Xie, Dong Feng Wang, Chao Zhao, Feng Hua Lv, Xin Li, Ji Yang, Jia Lin Yu, Min Shen, Lei Gao, Jing Quan Yang, Ming Jun Liu, Wen Rong Li, Yu Tao Wang, Feng Wang, Jin Quan Li, EEr E. Hehua, Yong Gang Liu, Zhi Qiang Shen, Yan Ling RenGuang Jian Liu, Ze Hui Chen, Neena A. Gorkhali, Hossam E. Rushdi, Hosein Salehian-Dehkordi, Ali Esmailizadeh, Maryam Nosrati, Samuel R. Paiva, Alexandre R. Caetano, Ondřej Štěpánek, Ingrid Olsaker, Christina Weimann, Georg Erhardt, Ino Curik, Juha Kantanen, Joram M. Mwacharo, Olivier Hanotte, Michael W. Bruford, Elena Ciani, Kathiravan Periasamy, Marcel Amills, Johannes A. Lenstra, Jian Lin Han, Hong Ping Zhang, Li Li, Meng Hua Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReport/ Case Reportpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


The domestication and subsequent global dispersal of livestock are crucial events in human history, but the migratory episodes during the history of livestock remain poorly documented [1–3]. Here, we first developed a set of 493 novel ovine SNPs of the male-specific region of Y chromosome (MSY) by genome mapping. We then conducted a comprehensive genomic analysis of Y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, and whole-genome sequence variations in a large number of 595 rams representing 118 domestic populations across the world. We detected four different paternal lineages of domestic sheep and resolved, at the global level, their paternal origins and differentiation. In Northern European breeds, several of which have retained primitive traits (e.g., a small body size and short or thin tails), and fat-tailed sheep, we found an overrepresentation of MSY lineages y-HC and y-HB, respectively. Using an approximate Bayesian computation approach, we reconstruct the demographic expansions associated with the segregation of primitive and fat-tailed phenotypes. These results together with archaeological evidence and historical data suggested the first expansion of early domestic hair sheep and the later expansion of fat-tailed sheep occurred ∼11,800–9,000 years BP and ∼5,300–1,700 years BP, respectively. These findings provide important insights into the history of migration and pastoralism of sheep across the Old World, which was associated with different breeding goals during the Neolithic agricultural revolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4085-4095.e6
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number20
Early online date20 Aug 2020
Publication statusPrint publication - 19 Oct 2020


  • domestication
  • fat-tailed
  • migration
  • mitogenome
  • primitive traits
  • sheep
  • whole genome
  • wool
  • Y-chromosome


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