Patterns of East Asian pig domestication, migration, and turnover revealed by modern and ancient DNA

Greger Larson, Ranran Liu, Xingbo Zhao, Jing Yuan, Dorian Fuller, Loukas Barton, Keith Dobney, Qipeng Fan, Zhiliang Gu, Xiao-Hui Liu, Yunbing Luo, Peng Lv, Leif Andersson, Ning Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


The establishment of agricultural economies based upon domestic animals began independently in many parts of the world and led to both increases inhuman population size and the migration of people carrying domestic plants and animals. The precise circumstances of the earliest phases of these events remain mysterious given their antiquity and the fact that subsequent waves of migrants have often replaced the first. Through the use of more than 1,500 modern (including 151 previously uncharacterized specimens) and 18 ancient (representing six East Asian archeological sites) pig (Sus scrofa) DNA sequences sampled across East Asia, we provide evidence for the long-term genetic continuity between modern and ancient Chinese domestic pigs. Although the Chinese case for independent pig domestication is supported by both genetic and archaeological evidence, we discuss five additional (and possibly) independent domestications of indigenous wild boar populations: one in India, three in peninsular Southeast Asia, and one off the coast of Taiwan. Collectively, we refer to these instances as "cryptic domestication," given the current lack of corroborating archaeological evidence. In addition, we demonstrate the existence of numerous populations of genetically distinct and widespread wild boar populations that have not contributed maternal genetic material to modern domestic stocks. The overall findings provide the most complete picture yet of pig evolution and domestication in East Asia, and generate testable hypotheses regarding the development and spread of early farmers in the Far East.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7686-7691
Number of pages6
Issue number17
Early online date19 Apr 2010
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2010


  • Asian colonization
  • mtDNA
  • phylogeography
  • North China
  • wild boars
  • origins
  • biodiversity
  • dispersal
  • genetics
  • insights
  • Europe
  • South


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