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One subspecies of the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus gallus) suffices as the matriarchic ancestor of all domestic breeds.

  • A Fumihito
  • T Miyake
  • S Sumi
  • M Takada
  • S Ohno
  • N Kondo
Publication Date
Dec 20, 1994


The noncoding control region of the mitochondrial DNA of various gallinaceous birds was studied with regard to its restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and sequences of the first 400 bases. Tandem duplication of the 60-base unit was established as a trait unique to the genus Gallus, which is shared neither by pheasants nor by quails. Unlike its close ally Gallus varius (green junglefowl), the red junglefowl Gallus gallus is a genetically very diverse species; the 7.0% sequence divergence was seen between those from Thailand (G. g. gallus and G. g. spadiceus) and the other from the Indonesian island of Java (G. g. Bankiva). Furthermore, the divergence increased to 27.83% if each transversion is regarded as an equivalent of 10 transitions. On the other hand, a mere 0.5-3.0% difference (all transitions) separated various domestic breeds of the chicken from two G. g. gallus of Thailand, thus indicating a single domestication event in the area inhabited by this subspecies of the red junglefowl as the origin of all domestic breeds. Only transitions separated six diverse domesticated breeds. Nevertheless, a 2.75% difference was seen between RFLP type I breeds (White Leghorn and Nagoya) and a RFLP type VIII breed (Ayam Pelung). The above data suggested that although the mitochondrion of RFLP type V was the main contributor to domestication, hens of other RFLP types also contributed to this event.

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