By the same authors

Relationship between wild greylag and European domestic geese based on mitochondrial DNA.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Publication details

JournalAnimal Genetics
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2015
DatePublished (current) - Oct 2015
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)485–497
Early online date19/06/15
Original languageEnglish


The origins of the European domestic goose are uncertain. The available information comes from archaeological findings and historical literature, but genetic evidence has hitherto been scarce. The domestic goose in Europe is derived from the greylag goose (Anser anser), but it is not known where the initial domestication took place and which of the two subspecies of greylag goose was ancestral. We aimed to determine the amount and geographical distribution of genetic diversity in modern populations of greylag geese as well as in different breeds of the domestic goose to make inferences about goose domestication. We studied DNA sequence variation in the mitochondrial control region of greylag geese from multiple populations across Europe and western Asia as well as specimens of domestic geese representing 18 modern breeds and individuals not belonging to any recognised breed. Our results show notable differences in genetic diversity between different greylag goose populations and the presence of six mitochondrial haplogroups which show a degree of geographical partitioning. The genetic diversity of the domestic goose is low, with 84% of sampled individuals having one of two major closely related haplotypes, suggesting that modern European domestic geese may derive from a narrow genetic base. The site of domestication remains unresolved, but domestic geese in Turkey were unusually diverse, indicating the importance of further sampling in the vicinity of the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. There appears to be past or ongoing hybridisation between greylags and domestic geese in particular areas, consistent with field observations.

    Research areas

  • Anser anser, Control region, Domestication, Genetic diversity, phylogeography

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