2021 Canine Health Summit: Patterns and Consequences of Inbreeding in Domestic Dogs

Aaron Sams

Aaron J. Sams, PhD

Principal Scientist, Embark Veterinary

Tues, Feb 16, 2021 | 11:00 am ET – 12:00 pm ET

Patterns and Consequences of Inbreeding in Domestic Dogs

Inbreeding leaves distinct genomic traces, most notably long genomic tracts that are identical by descent and completely homozygous. These runs of homozygosity (ROH) can contribute to inbreeding depression if they contain deleterious variants that are fully or partially recessive. The aim of this study was to use owner provided phenotypes, clinical diagnoses, and lifespans to examine the relationship between inbreeding measured from ROH and the severity of inbreeding depression across tens of thousands of dogs. We find strong correlations between the amount of the genome found in ROH (coefficient of inbreeding) and reported clinical diagnoses reported across a range of health conditions, as well as a strong negative correlation between inbreeding and lifespan.

About the speaker

Dr. Aaron Sams is a population geneticist who values using scientific research to provide beneficial technologies and services to the world. As a trained anthropologist, Dr. Sams learned to connect his scientific research to human narratives, past and present. He uses that lens to focus his efforts as a leader in Research and Development at Embark Veterinary, Inc. and believes that as humans, we owe it to dogs, our earliest animal companions, to ensure their health and well-being.

Before joining Embark in 2016, Dr. Sams received his PhD in Biological Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, in 2012, and subsequently served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University. 

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