High genetic diversity of ancient horses from the Ukok Plateau

Nadezhda V. Vorobieva, Alexey I. Makunin, Anna S. Druzhkova, Mariya A. Kusliy, Vladimir A. Trifonov, Kseniya O. Popova, Natalia V. Polosmak, Vyacheslav I. Molodin, Sergei K. Vasiliev, Michael V. Shunkov, Alexander S. Graphodatsky

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1 Citation (Scopus)


A growing number of researchers studying horse domestication come to a conclusion that this process happened in multiple locations and involved multiple wild maternal lines. The most promising approach to address this problem involves mitochondrial haplotype comparison of wild and domestic horses from various locations coupled with studies of possible migration routes of the ancient shepherds. Here, we sequenced complete mitochondrial genomes of six horses from burials of the Ukok plateau (Russia, Altai Mountains) dated from 2.7 to 1.4 thousand years before present and a single late Pleistocene wild horse from the neighboring region (Denisova cave). Sequencing data indicates that the wild horse belongs to an extinct pre-domestication lineage. Integration of the domestic horse data with known Eurasian haplotypes of a similar age revealed two distinct groups: the first one widely distributed in Europe and presumably imported to Altai, and the second one specific for Altai Mountains and surrounding area.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0241997
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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