Peter Savolainen

Peter Savolainen is Associate Professor in Evolutionary Genetics

Peter Savolainen, Ph.D
Associate Professor

Visiting address:
Science for Life Laboratory
Tomtebodavägen 23A (α-house, floor 3)
SE-171 65 Solna

Postal address:
KTH - Royal Institute of Technology
School of Biotechnology
Science for Life Laboratory
PO Box 1031
SE-171 21 SOLNA

Tel:    +46-8-524 81 422
Mobile    +46-70-062 4036


I received my Ph.D. degree in 1999 at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Department of Biotechnology, based on development of techniques for analysis of mitochondrial DNA from minute DNA samples, and their use in forensic and population genetic studies.

After a post-doc period at the Max-Planck Institute in Leipzig, working on ancient human remains, I returned to KTH, to complete the first study of global dog genetic diversity (Savolainen 2002, see selected publications). Since then, my main scientific interest is population genetic studies of the origin, evolution and history of the domestic dog. Based on a unique sample collection from more than 4,000 dogs from around the world, and collaborations with research groups in, e.g., China and Australia, detailed information about the origin of the domestic dog and the Australian dingo have been obtained. I also have a keen interest in method development and forensic DNA analysis.

Exploiting the new generation of very powerful DNA sequencing technology, my group is now using massive genome sequencing, bioinformatics and phylogeographical analyses to identify the genetics and history of the domestic dog, and to develop novel forensic methods for DNA analysis.

I am course director for the undergraduate courses “Genetics and Genomics BB2470”, "Genetics BB2471" and "Degree project in Biotechnology BB200x", given at Master's level of the Biotechnology program at KTH.

Selected publications:

Savolainen P, Zhang Y-P, Luo J, Lundeberg J, Leitner T. Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of domestic dogs. Science 2002:298,1610-1613.

Savolainen P, Leitner T, Wilton A, Matisoo-Smith E, Lundeberg J. A detailed picture of the origin of the Australian dingo, obtained from the study of mitochondrial DNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2004:101,12387-12390.

Pang JF, Klütsch C, Zou XJ, Zhang AB, Luo LY, Angleby H, Ardalan A, Ekström C, Sköllermo A, Lundeberg J, Matsumura S, Leitner T, Zhang YP, Savolainen P. mtDNA Data Indicates a Single Origin for Dogs South of Yangtze River, less than 16,300 Years Ago, from Numerous Wolves. Mol Biol Evol. 2009:26,2849-64.

Wang GD, Zhai W, Yang HC, Fan RX, Cao X, Zhong L, Wang L, Liu F, Wu H, Cheng LG, Poyarkov AD, Poyarkov NA Jr, Tang SS, Zhao WM, Gao Y, Lv XM, Irwin DM, Savolainen P, Wu CI, Zhang YP. The genomics of selection in dogs and the parallel evolution between dogs and humans. Nat Commun. 2013;4:1860.

van Asch B, Zhang AB, Oskarsson MC, Klütsch CF, Amorim A, Savolainen P. Pre-Columbian origins of Native American dog breeds, with only limited replacement by European dogs, confirmed by mtDNA analysis. Proc R Soc B. 2013;280:20131142.

Wang GD, Zhai W, Yang HC, Wang L, Zhong L, Liu YH, Fan RX, Yin TT, Zhu CL, Poyarkov AD, Irwin DM, Hytönen MK, Lohi H, Wu CI, Savolainen P, Zhang YP. Out of  southern East Asia: the natural history of domestic dogs across the world. Cell Res. 2016;26:21-33.

Wang GD, Peng M, Yang HC, Frantz L, Savolainen P, Zhang YP. Questioning the evidence for a Central Asian domestication origin of dogs. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2016; 113, E2554-E2555.

Evolutionary Biology and Forensics

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