Asian Scientist (Sep. 19, 2013) – Scientists have sequenced the genome of the tiger, Panthera tigris, for the first time in a study that has revealed insights into how tigers and other big cats evolved to become predators.
In the study, published in Nature Communications, the scientists reported the whole genome sequence of the Amur Tiger together with genomic sequences from the white Bengal tiger, African lion, white African lion and snow leopard.
A comparative analysis of these big cat genomic sequences highlighted ‘signatures’ that are consistent with both a carnivorous diet and muscle strength.
The team identified 1,376 big-cat specific genes indicative of a carnivorous diet, through a comparative analysis of genomes including tiger, human, dog and mouse, and provide evidence for the rapid evolution of genes involved in muscle contraction and the actin cytoskeleton.
The team also identified two candidate genes that may have been important in the snow leopard’s adaptation to high altitudes and pinpoint a potential coat color gene in the white lion.
The results of the study provide a valuable resource for investigating the genetic diversity and conservation of big cats, especially the tiger which may become extinct soon if effective conservation measures are not deployed.
The article can be found at: Cho et al. (2013) The Tiger Genome And Comparative Analysis With Lion And Snow Leopard Genomes.
Source: Nature Publishing Group; Photo: Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr/CC.
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