Below is an excerpt from the abstract of the latest genetic study “Origins of domestic dog in Southern East Asia is supported by analysis of Y-chromosome DNA“ suggesting that the possible place where the dog was domesticated was in the region south of the Yangtze River.
Figure 1 data from the study is particularly interesting as it suggests that the domestic dog in Japan is a mixture of two types, originating from the Middle East-through-Western Asian (Yunnan-Tibet) belt as well as from the Southeast Asian regions, which would correspond closely to the dual structure theory of Japanese origins (and distribution of Jomon genes (haplogroups D and YAP+ (Y-DNA) and M7(mtDNA) vs. Yayoi or post-Yayoi-and-Kofun eras (haplogroups O2b/O3)
Z-L Ding et al., Heredity advance online publication 23 November 2011; doi: 10.1038/hdy.2011.114
Global mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data indicates that the dog originates from domestication of wolf in Asia South of Yangtze River (ASY), with minor genetic contributions from dog–wolf hybridisation elsewhere.
Two haplogroups were universally shared and included three haplotypes carried by 46% of all dogs, but two other haplogroups were primarily restricted to East Asia. Highest genetic diversity and virtually complete phylogenetic coverage was found within ASY. The 151 dogs were estimated to originate from 13–24 wolf founders, but there was no indication of post-domestication dog–wolf hybridisations. Thus, Y-chromosome and mtDNA data give strikingly similar pictures of dog phylogeography, most importantly that roughly 50% of the gene pools are shared universally but only ASY has nearly the full range of genetic diversity, such that the gene pools in all other regions may derive from ASY. This corroborates that ASY was the principal, and possibly sole region of wolf domestication, that a large number of wolves were domesticated, and that subsequent dog–wolf hybridisation contributed modestly to the dog gene pool.
NB: The abstract also notes that “there is yet no consensus concerning in which geographical region the domestication of wolf occurred. Studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from dogs worldwide have strongly indicated the southern part of East Asia (dubbed Asia South of Yangtze River, ASY) (Savolainen et al., 2002; Pang et al., 2009; Klütsch and Savolainen, 2011). Archaeological data has instead indicated an origin from Europe or Southwest (SW) Asia or from multiple regions (Clutton-Brock, 1995), and a recent study of autosomal single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data suggested SW Asia as the major source of genetic diversity for dogs (Vonholdt et al., 2010). However, both the archaeological- and the autosomal-SNP datasets suffer from geographical bias, in that they almost totally lack data from ASY (Klütsch and Savolainen, 2011).”
See also earlier references and source readings:
Excerpts from a NY Times article highlighted the findings of research that concluded that dogs were first domesticated about 15,000 years ago in the Middle East. This article’s findings contradicted initial conclusions of early research that found that dogs were first domesticated in the East Asia.
New Finding Puts Origins of Dogs in Middle East By Nicholas Wade (NY Times March 17, 2010)
“Borrowing methods developed to study the genetics of human disease, researchers have concluded that dogs were probably first domesticated from wolves somewhere in the Middle East, in contrast to an earlier survey suggesting dogs originated in East Asia.
A research team led by Bridgett M. vonHoldt and Robert K. Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles, has analyzed a large collection of wolf and dog genomes from around the world. Scanning for similar runs of DNA, the researchers found that the Middle East was where wolf and dog genomes were most similar, although there was another area of overlap between East Asian wolves and dogs. Wolves were probably first domesticated in the Middle East, but after dogs had spread to East Asia there was a crossbreeding that injected more wolf genes into the dog genome, the researchers conclude in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.
The archaeological evidence supports this idea, since some of the earliest dog remains have been found in the Middle East, dating from 12,000 years ago. The only earlier doglike remains occur in Belgium, at a site 31,000 years old, and in western Russia from 15,000 years ago. Several thousand years later, in the first settled communities that began to appear in the Middle East 15,000 years ago, people began intervening in the breeding patterns of their camp followers, turning them into the first proto-dogs. One of the features they selected was small size, continuing the downsizing of the wolf body plan. “I think a long history such as that would explain how a large carnivore, which can eat you, eventually became stably incorporated in human society,” Dr. Wayne said.
Dr. Wayne was surprised to find that all the herding dogs grouped together, as did all the sight hounds and the scent hounds, making a perfect match between dogs’ various functions and the branches on the genetic tree. “I thought there would be many ways to build a herding dog and that they’d come from all over the tree, but there are not,” Dr. Wayne said.
An earlier survey of dog origins, based on a small genetic element known as mitochondrial DNA, concluded that dogs had been domesticated, probably just once, in East Asia. The author of the survey, Peter Savolainen of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, said he was not convinced by the new report for several reasons, including that it did not sample dogs in East Asia from south of the Yangtze, the region where the diversity of mitochondrial DNA is highest. Also archaeologists in China have been less interested in distinguishing dog and wolf remains, he said.
Two other experts on dog genetics, Carlos Driscoll and Stephen O’Brien, of the National Cancer Institute, said they believed that Dr. Wayne’s team had made a convincing case. “I think they have nailed the locale of dog domestication to the Middle East,” Dr. O’Brien said in an e-mail message from Siberia, where he is attending a tiger management workshop.
Dog domestication and human settlement occurred at the same time, some 15,000 years ago, raising the possibility that dogs may have had a complex impact on the structure of human society. Dogs could have been the sentries that let hunter gatherers settle without fear of surprise attack. They may also have been the first major item of inherited wealth, preceding cattle, and so could have laid the foundations for the gradations of wealth and social hierarchy that differentiated settled groups from the egalitarianism of their hunter-gatherer predecessors. Notions of inheritance and ownership, Dr. Driscoll said, may have been prompted by the first dogs to permeate human society, laying an unexpected track from wolf to wealth.”
Further reading and source links:
MtDNA data indicates a single origin for dogs south of Yangtze River, less than 16,300 years ago, from numerous wolves, Molecular Biology and Evolution, doi:10.1093/molbev/msp19
Dogs were probably domesticated in the Near East rather the East Asia (Dienekes’ Anthropology pub. date Mar 18, 2010 - retr. Feb 5, 2011)
Wolves were domesticated in southeast Asia (Past Horizon Blog)
Dogs First Tamed in China — To Be Food? (National Geographic News)