Researchers released the draft genome sequence of the domestic dog in this week's issue of Nature, capping a multiyear project aimed at mapping genetic traits in man's best friend, and producing the highest-resolution draft to date of the canine genome. Scientists say they hope the latest addition to the genomic toolbox will serve as a particularly useful model for studying human diseases, given that hundreds of years of dog inbreeding has produced isolated subpopulations whose physical traits are easily linked to genetic structures.

The study authors have "pretty much unlocked a treasure chest of genetic variability that underlies phenotypic variability, that helps us to understand not only what regulates traits in dogs but also what regulates traits in humans," canine geneticist Patrick Venta of Michigan State University, who was not involved in the study, told The Scientist. "There's no other mammalian species that has as much genetic variability...

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