Large-scale ruminant genome sequencing provides insights into their evolution and distinct traits

Journal: Science

Published: 2019-06-21

DOI: 10.1126/science.aav6202

Affiliations: 29

Authors: 52

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Research Highlight

Genomes reveal evolution of ruminants

© Winfried Wisniewski/Getty

© Winfried Wisniewski/Getty

A new family tree for ruminants helps explain the evolution of these agriculturally important mammals.

An international team co-led by scientists at Northwestern Polytechnical University assembled the genomes of 44 ruminant species, including cattle, yak, goat and sheep.

With their dataset of more than 40 trillion letters of DNA, the researchers resolved the evolutionary history of these cud-chewing mammals. They found that many lineages experienced large population reductions about 100,000 years ago — around the same time that humans started migrating out of Africa to other continents.

This implies that human encroachment into ruminant territories likely contributed to the massive decline in mammalian species during the late Pleistocene period, a finding that could have important implications for modern conservation efforts.

The researchers also identified many genetic changes implicated in the evolution of cranial appendages, digestive systems, dental anatomy and other ruminant traits of interest to animal breeders.

Supported content

  1. Science 364, eaav6202 (2019). doi: 10.1126/science.aav6202
Institutions Share
Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU), China 0.28
Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), CAS, China 0.20
Northwest A&F University (NWAFU), China 0.13
University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark 0.05
Nowbio Biotechnology Company, China 0.04
University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), United States of America (USA) 0.03
San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, United States of America (USA) 0.03
BGI-Shenzhen, China 0.02
Institute of Zoology (IOZ), CAS, China 0.02
Kashgar University, China 0.02
Lanzhou University (LZU), China 0.02
Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark 0.02
Oregon State University, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity - Museum für Naturkunde (MfN), Germany 0.02
Institute of Special Animal and Plant Sciences (TCS), CAAS, China 0.02
University of California, Davis (UC Davis), United States of America (USA) 0.02
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), China 0.01
Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate (CMEC), Denmark 0.01
Yunnan Research Institute for Local Plateau Agriculture and Industry, China 0.01
State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-Resources in Yunnan, China 0.01
Natural History Museum of Denmark (SNM), UCPH, Denmark 0.01
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway 0.01