This content will become publicly available on April 28, 2024
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Author(s) / Creator(s):
- ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more »
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
INTRODUCTION A major challenge in genomics is discerning which bases among billions alter organismal phenotypes and affect health and disease risk. Evidence of past selective pressure on a base, whether highly conserved or fast evolving, is a marker of functional importance. Bases that are unchanged in all mammals may shape phenotypes that are essential for organismal health. Bases that are evolving quickly in some species, or changed only in species that share an adaptive trait, may shape phenotypes that support survival in specific niches. Identifying bases associated with exceptional capacity for cellular recovery, such as in species that hibernate, could inform therapeutic discovery. RATIONALE The power and resolution of evolutionary analyses scale with the number and diversity of species compared. By analyzing genomes for hundreds of placental mammals, we can detect which individual bases in the genome are exceptionally conserved (constrained) and likely to be functionally important in both coding and noncoding regions. By including species that represent all orders of placental mammals and aligning genomes using a method that does not require designating humans as the reference species, we explore unusual traits in other species. RESULTS Zoonomia’s mammalian comparative genomics resources are the most comprehensive and statistically well-powered produced to date, with a protein-coding alignment of 427 mammals and a whole-genome alignment of 240 placental mammals representing all orders. We estimate that at least 10.7% of the human genome is evolutionarily conserved relative to neutrally evolving repeats and identify about 101 million significantly constrained single bases (false discovery rate < 0.05). We cataloged 4552 ultraconserved elements at least 20 bases long that are identical in more than 98% of the 240 placental mammals. Many constrained bases have no known function, illustrating the potential for discovery using evolutionary measures. Eighty percent are outside protein-coding exons, and half have no functional annotations in the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) resource. Constrained bases tend to vary less within human populations, which is consistent with purifying selection. Species threatened with extinction have few substitutions at constrained sites, possibly because severely deleterious alleles have been purged from their small populations. By pairing Zoonomia’s genomic resources with phenotype annotations, we find genomic elements associated with phenotypes that differ between species, including olfaction, hibernation, brain size, and vocal learning. We associate genomic traits, such as the number of olfactory receptor genes, with physical phenotypes, such as the number of olfactory turbinals. By comparing hibernators and nonhibernators, we implicate genes involved in mitochondrial disorders, protection against heat stress, and longevity in this physiologically intriguing phenotype. Using a machine learning–based approach that predicts tissue-specific cis - regulatory activity in hundreds of species using data from just a few, we associate changes in noncoding sequence with traits for which humans are exceptional: brain size and vocal learning. CONCLUSION Large-scale comparative genomics opens new opportunities to explore how genomes evolved as mammals adapted to a wide range of ecological niches and to discover what is shared across species and what is distinctively human. High-quality data for consistently defined phenotypes are necessary to realize this potential. Through partnerships with researchers in other fields, comparative genomics can address questions in human health and basic biology while guiding efforts to protect the biodiversity that is essential to these discoveries. Comparing genomes from 240 species to explore the evolution of placental mammals. Our new phylogeny (black lines) has alternating gray and white shading, which distinguishes mammalian orders (labeled around the perimeter). Rings around the phylogeny annotate species phenotypes. Seven species with diverse traits are illustrated, with black lines marking their branch in the phylogeny. Sequence conservation across species is described at the top left. IMAGE CREDIT: K. MORRILLmore » « less
Theory predicts that threatened species living in small populations will experience high levels of inbreeding that will increase their genetic load, but recent work suggests that the impact of load may be minimized by purging resulting from long‐term population bottlenecks. Empirical studies that examine this idea using genome‐wide estimates of inbreeding and genetic load in threatened species are limited. Here we use individual genome resequencing data to compare levels of inbreeding, levels of genetic load (estimated as mutation load) and population history in threatened Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (
Sistrurus catenatus), which exist in small isolated populations, and closely related yet outbred Western massasauga rattlesnakes ( Sistrurus tergeminus). In terms of inbreeding, S. catenatusgenomes had a greater number of runs of homozygosity of varying sizes, indicating sustained inbreeding through repeated bottlenecks when compared to S. tergeminus. At the species level, outbred S. tergeminushad higher genome‐wide levels of mutation load in the form of greater numbers of derived deleterious mutations compared to S. catenatus, presumably due to long‐term purging of deleterious mutations in S. catenatus. In contrast, mutations that escaped species‐level drift effects within S. catenatuspopulations were in general more frequent and more often found in homozygous genotypes than in S. tergeminus, suggesting a reduced efficiency of purifying selection in smaller S. catenatuspopulations for most mutations. Our results support an emerging idea that the historical demography of a threatened species has a significant impact on the type of genetic load present, which impacts implementation of conservation actions such as genetic rescue.
Enard, David (Ed.)Abstract High-quality reference genomes are fundamental tools for understanding population history, and can provide estimates of genetic and demographic parameters relevant to the conservation of biodiversity. The federally endangered Pacific pocket mouse (PPM), which persists in three small, isolated populations in southern California, is a promising model for studying how demographic history shapes genetic diversity, and how diversity in turn may influence extinction risk. To facilitate these studies in PPM, we combined PacBio HiFi long reads with Omni-C and Hi-C data to generate a de novo genome assembly, and annotated the genome using RNAseq. The assembly comprised 28 chromosome-length scaffolds (N50 = 72.6 MB) and the complete mitochondrial genome, and included a long heterochromatic region on chromosome 18 not represented in the previously available short-read assembly. Heterozygosity was highly variable across the genome of the reference individual, with 18% of windows falling in runs of homozygosity (ROH) >1 MB, and nearly 9% in tracts spanning >5 MB. Yet outside of ROH, heterozygosity was relatively high (0.0027), and historical Ne estimates were large. These patterns of genetic variation suggest recent inbreeding in a formerly large population. Currently the most contiguous assembly for a heteromyid rodent, this reference genome provides insight into the past and recent demographic history of the population, and will be a critical tool for management and future studies of outbreeding depression, inbreeding depression, and genetic load.more » « less
Genetic and genomic data are increasingly used to aid conservation management of endangered species by providing insights into evolutionary histories, factors associated with extinction risks, and potential for future adaptation. For the ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis), genetic concerns include negative correlations between inbreeding and hatching success. However, it is unclear if low genetic diversity and inbreeding depression are consequences of a historical population bottleneck, or if ‘Alalā had historically low genetic diversity that predated human influence, perhaps as a result of earlier declines or founding events. In this study, we applied a hybridization-based sequence capture to generate a genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) dataset for comparing historical specimens collected in the 1890s, when ‘Alalā were more numerous, to samples taken between 1973 and 1998, when ‘Alalā population densities were near the lowest documented levels in the wild, prior to all individuals being collected for captive rearing. We found low genome-wide diversity in both sample groups, however, the modern sample group (1973 to 1998 cohort) exhibited relatively fewer polymorphic alleles, a lower proportion of polymorphic loci, and lower observed heterozygosity, consistent with a population decline and potential bottleneck effects. These results combined with a current low population size highlight the importance of continued efforts by conservation managers to mitigate inbreeding and maintain founder representation to preserve what genetic diversity remains.
Avoiding extinction in a rapidly changing environment often relies on a species’ ability to quickly adapt in the face of extreme selective pressures. In Panamá, two closely related harlequin frog species (
Atelopus variusand Atelopus zeteki) are threatened with extinction due to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis( Bd). Once thought to be nearly extirpated from Panamá, A. variushave recently been rediscovered in multiple localities across their historical range; however, A. zetekiare possibly extinct in the wild. By leveraging a unique collection of 186 Atelopustissue samples collected before and after the Bdoutbreak in Panama, we describe the genetics of persistence for these species on the brink of extinction. We sequenced the transcriptome and developed an exome‐capture assay to sequence the coding regions of the Atelopusgenome. Using these genetic data, we evaluate the population genetic structure of historical A. variusand A. zetekipopulations, describe changes in genetic diversity over time, assess the relationship between contemporary and historical individuals, and test the hypothesis that some A. variuspopulations have rapidly evolved to resist or tolerate Bdinfection. We found a significant decrease in genetic diversity in contemporary (compared to historical) A. variuspopulations. We did not find strong evidence of directional allele frequency change or selection for Bdresistance genes, but we uncovered a set of candidate genes that warrant further study. Additionally, we found preliminary evidence of recent migration and gene flow in one of the largest persisting A. variuspopulations in Panamá, suggesting the potential for genetic rescue in this system. Finally, we propose that previous conservation units should be modified, as clear genetic breaks do not exist beyond the local population level. Our data lay the groundwork for genetically informed conservation and advance our understanding of how imperiled species might be rescued from extinction.