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Abstract The Andean bear is the only extant member of the Tremarctine subfamily and the only extant ursid species to inhabit South America. Here, we present an annotated de novo assembly of a nuclear genome from a captive-born female Andean bear, Mischief, generated using a combination of short and long DNA and RNA reads. Our final assembly has a length of 2.23 Gb, and a scaffold N50 of 21.12 Mb, contig N50 of 23.5 kb, and BUSCO score of 88%. The Andean bear genome will be a useful resource for exploring the complex phylogenetic history of extinct and extant bear species and for future population genetics studies of Andean bears.
Puma genomes from North and South America provide insights into the genomic consequences of inbreeding
Pumas are the most widely distributed felid in the Western Hemisphere. Increasingly, however, human persecution and habitat loss are isolating puma populations. To explore the genomic consequences of this isolation, we assemble a draft puma genome and a geographically broad panel of resequenced individuals. We estimate that the lineage leading to present-day North American pumas diverged from South American lineages 300–100 thousand years ago. We find signatures of close inbreeding in geographically isolated North American populations, but also that tracts of homozygosity are rarely shared among these populations, suggesting that assisted gene flow would restore local genetic diversity. The genome of a Florida panther descended from translocated Central American individuals has long tracts of homozygosity despite recent outbreeding. This suggests that while translocations may introduce diversity, sustaining diversity in small and isolated populations will require either repeated translocations or restoration of landscape connectivity. Our approach provides a framework for genome-wide analyses that can be applied to the management of similarly small and isolated populations.
The evolutionarily conserved splicing regulator neuro-oncological ventral antigen 1 (
NOVA1) plays a key role in neural development and function. NOVA1also includes a protein-coding difference between the modern human genome and Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes. To investigate the functional importance of an amino acid change in humans, we reintroduced the archaic allele into human induced pluripotent cells using genome editing and then followed their neural development through cortical organoids. This modification promoted slower development and higher surface complexity in cortical organoids with the archaic version of NOVA1. Moreover, levels of synaptic markers and synaptic protein coassociations correlated with altered electrophysiological properties in organoids expressing the archaic variant. Our results suggest that the human-specific substitution in NOVA1, which is exclusive to modern humans since divergence from Neanderthals, may have had functional consequences for our species’ evolution.