4 Oct 2018

Article : “The ‘Domestication Syndrome’ in Mammals: A Unified Explanation Based on Neural Crest Cell Behavior and Genetics” by Wilkins, Wrangham and Fitch, Genetics, Vol 197, pp. 795-808, 2014.


a) What is the ‘Domestication Syndrome’? What traits that are part of the syndrome are intentional targets of the domestication process? What traits are not? Why might animal breeders target the traits that they do?

b) The paper focuses on neural crest cells and tissues derived from them. What is the neural crest? How are so many tissues and organs affected by neural crest cells?

c) The paper presents an explanation for the Domestication Syndrome. Summarize it and give specific details about how neural crest cell proliferation affects each trait.

d)What types of evidence is used to support neural crest cell effects on each of the traits discussed? Why do you think evidence of that type exists (be specific for each trait)?

e)What are the alternative explanations for domestication syndrome (compared to what the paper suggests)? Can it be explained by “relaxed natural selection,” “phenotypic plasticity,” or “gentler living conditions”? How and Why? Come up with some of your own alternative explanations for the syndrome.

f)Suggest ways to test the Neural Crest cell explanation of Domestication Syndrome, and any alternatives you can think of.

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Lelia Lubowitz
Lelia LubowitzLv2
5 Oct 2018

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