An analysis of the dingo genome shows that it is markedly different from modern domestic dogs and that the dingo may never have been domesticated, New Scientist reports.
It adds that the relationship between dingoes and modern domestic dogs has been a source of debate with some scientists suggesting dingoes are the descendants of ancient domestic dogs that became feral, while others suspected they had not ever been domesticated. According to New Scientist, La Trobe University's Bill Ballard and colleagues won a contest to sequence "world's most interesting" organism and sequenced a desert dingo named Sandy.
As they now report in Science Advances, they analyzed Sandy's genome and compared it to German shepherd, basenji, Great Dane, and Labrador retriever dog genomes to find that the dingo genome has diverged from and is structurally distinct from them. For instance, the researchers note a number of structural variants between the modern domestic dog and dingo genomes, including that dingoes lack the AMY2B gene expansion found in most dog breeds that enable them to digest starchy food.
"This reinforces the notion that dingoes were never truly domesticated," Ballard tells New Scientist.