Washington, June 9 (ANI): A team of German, Russian, and Swedish scientists have found genetic regions that are responsible for animal tameness.
Reporting their work in the June 2009 issue of the journal GENETICS, the researchers said that their findings might become a breakthrough in animal breeding.
They say that the discovery should help animal breeders, farmers, zoologists, and anyone else who handles and raises animals to more fully understand what makes some animals interact with humans better than do others.
According to them, it may also lead to more precise breeding strategies designed to pass specific genes from one generation to the next as a way to produce tame animals.
"I hope our study will ultimately lead to a detailed understanding of the genetics and biology of tameness. Maybe we'll then be able to domesticate a few of those species where humans have historically not been successful like the wild African Buffalo," said Frank Albert, a scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and the first author of the research report.
For their study, the researchers mated tame rats-which tolerated being touched and picked up, and never attack-with the aggressive ones that would often attack and bit people.
Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS, said: "For thousands of years, humans have domesticated animals, and all during this time, much folklore and mythology has surrounded the process. But of course genetics plays a large role in the process, and this research provides a solid scientific explanation of this phenomenon, and offers clues about how genomes can be manipulated to breed tame animals of species once believed to be untamable." (ANI)