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The Sheep Genome: Study shows how sheep first separated from goats

Posted June 6, 2014
Gene study shows how sheep first separated from goats
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have helped to crack the genetic code of sheep. The team were part of the International Sheep Genomics Consortium which sequenced the entire genetic make-up of a texel sheep, the same breed shown in this image. Their findings reveal that sheep became a distinct species from goats around 4 million years ago. Credit: Kay Aitchison, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh

Scientists have cracked the genetic code of sheep to reveal how they became a distinct species from goats around four million years ago. The study is the first to pinpoint the genetic differences that make sheep different from other animals. The findings could aid the development of DNA testing to speed-up selective breeding programmes, helping farmers to improve their stocks.


The latest study, led by scientists from Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, BGI and other institutes, presents a high-quality  genome and reveals genomic and transcriptomic events that may be associated with rumen evolution and lipid metabolism that have relevance to both diet and . The work was published online today in Science.

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