During her Ph.D., Constantina worked on the genomics of (self-)domestication. This project departed from the idea that humans’ anatomical characteristics and sociality resemble those of domesticated species, an idea present already in the early writings of Darwin. But whether this resemblance was random or not still remained a mystery. Constantina and colleagues in their article in PLOS ONE compared the regions under positive selection in the genomes of humans and several other domesticated species (e.g., dog, cat, cow, horse) and found out that there was a statistically significant overlap of these regions. When they compared these regions between humans and other non-human primates (e.g., chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan), they did not find a significant overlap. This is the first genomic evidence that modern humans’ genomic trajectory has indeed something in common with that of domesticated species, or in other words, the first genomic evidence for human self-domestication. Constantina is now working on identifying whether humans share convergent changes with other self-domesticated species (e.g., bonobos).
See Constantina explain this story in 3 minutes, for the ‘3-minute thesis’ competition, which she won.