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Rabbit Mitochondrial DNA Diversity from Prehistoric to Modern Times

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Mounolou, Jean Claude; Fridlansky, F.
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28, 1995
Date: 1995
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5540
Sector: History
Region: Europe
Subject(s): wildlife
Abstract: "The mitochondrial genetic variability in European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) populations present in Europe and North Africa from 11,000 years ago to the present day has been analyzed using ancient DNA techniques. DNA was extracted from 90 rabbit bones found in 22 archaeological sites dated between the Mesolithic and recent times. Nucleotide sequences present in a variable 233-bp domain of the cytochrome b gene were compared to those present in modern-day rabbits. The results show that the structure of ancient populations of wild rabbit exhibited remarkable stability over time until the Middle Ages. At this time, a novel type of mtDNA molecule abruptly appears into most wild populations studied from France. This mtDNA type corresponds to that currently present in the domestic breeds of rabbit examined so far. The relative rapidity by which this mtDNA type established and its absence in all sites examined before 1,700 years ago lend support to the hypothesis that between 2,000 and 1,000 years ago, man may have favored the development, into all regions of France, of animals carrying this particular mtDNA molecule. The origin of such animals has still to be found: animals previously living outside of France or within France but in very restricted areas? This event was concomitant with the documented establishment of warrens after the tenth century A.D. in Europe."

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