Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt am Main has just finished sequencing the genome of the brown bear. The work was done in collaboration the Norwegian research institute Bioforsk and the Chinese genome-sequencing institute BGI.
Male Brown Bear
Copyright: Alexander Kopatz, Bioforsk
The researchers will now compare the brown bear sequence to the recently released genome sequences of polar bear and giant panda. The brown bear genome could ultimately be the key to identify genes that are relevant for environmental adaptation.
He is truly a mighty one – the brown bear is, together with the polar bear, the world's largest living land predator. In one of the first German mammalian genome projects, its genetic make-up, the genome, has now been sequenced. The “pilot bear” as he is nicknamed, was a male brown bear from the Pasvik Valley, Northern Norway and its genome is a spark for new research on this species. One of the partners, the Chinese genome center BGI, had also recently released the genome of the polar bear. Prof. Dr. Axel Janke, BiK-F, head of the research team, says: “With the entire genome sequences of those two bears, we have an incredible resource at hand to understand the genetic basis of adaptation to different climates. The genome sequences will also prove an invaluable resource to study other aspects of bear biology, and will help us to better understand and protect those fascinating animals.”
Brown bear genome: essential reference point to understand climate adaptation in polar bear
The particular significance of the brown bear genome springs from the bear’s close relationship to the polar bear – the flagship species of climate change. Recent studies at BiK-F show that the two bears diverged from each other less than a million years ago and the species are much older than previously thought “Thus, comparing their genomes will tell much about how they managed to adapt to different climates”, as Prof. Dr. Axel Janke (BiK-F) points out: “They are a terrific study system to understand what genetic make-up allows a mammal to survive under arctic or temperate climate conditions. Comparative genomics has already taught us a lot about evolutionary processes in humans, Neanderthals and chimpanzees. Now the bears will be the second mammalian group where the whole genomes of very close relatives can be studied and our“pilot bear” will become immortal.”
The brown bear genome is just the starting point for a series of genome research projects on this species, as Janke further explains: “The entire history of the brown bear is written in its genome and it will take years to completely decipher it. Even in humans, with several complete genomes and several millions of other sequences and medical data being available, the genome research has only just begun. However, comparative genomics is immensely profiting from this field.”
The brown bear genome enables advanced migration studies
The brown bear genome will not only be useful to study climate adaption, but also for conservation aspects. “The data will allow the development of new genetic markers that are urgently needed for conservation and wildlife management”, says Dr. Hans-Geir Eiken from Norwegian Bioforsk. The institute closely monitors Scandinavian and Russian bear populations. While a number of studies have looked at maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA to study the population history and migration patterns of females, no relevant markers from the Y-chromosome are available to study male migration. The genome of the male brown bear will now enable such studies. “Many previous mammalian genomes came from females and were thus missing Y-chromosome sequences”, Dr. Eiken points out. He and his colleagues are eager to start the work, once the initial assembly and genome analyses have been completed.
A complete mammalian genome is also a rich resource for countless follow-up studies by evolutionary biologists and geneticists. For instance, mammalian genomes consist to a large part of non-coding sequences, so-called ”jumping genes” (transposable elements). Transposable elements typically account for one third to half of a mammalian genome and have a yet unknown impact on gene function, evolution and adaptation, because until now most studies looked at single loci of genes rather than whole genomes of species that are closely related.
For studying the vast amount of data and complexity of this and other questions, Janke’s BiK-F research team consists of experts in the fields of bioinformatics, population genetics and the genetics of transposable elements. Together with Bioforsk, among others, the data are currently being analyzed and the first results are expected shortly. Next to Janke and Eiken, the research is conducted by Dr. Björn Hallström, Dr. Frank Hailer, Dr. Maria Nilsson, Verena Kutschera and Vikas Kumar from BiK-F as well as Bioforsk scientists Alexander Kopatz, Dr. Oddmund Kleven and Dr. Snorre Hagen.
For further information please contact:Prof. Dr. Axel Janke
Further reports about: > Agricultural Research > BGI > Biodiversity > Chinese herbs > Climate change > Environmental Research > Genom > Y-chromosome > environmental risk > evolutionary biologist > evolutionary process > genetic make-up > genetic marker > genome sequence > jumping gene > mammalian genome > polar bear > transposable elements
North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich
Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein
22.03.2018 | Universität Basel
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News
22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences