Dietary adaptation, Evolution, Felidae, Leopard, Wild species genome
Recent advances in genome sequencing technologies have enabled humans to generate and investigate the genomes of wild species. This includes the big cat family, such as tigers, lions, and leopards. Adding the first high quality leopard genome, we have performed an in-depth comparative analysis to identify the genomic signatures in the evolution of felid to become the top predators on land. Our study focused on how the carnivore genomes, as compared to the omnivore or herbivore genomes, shared evolutionary adaptations in genes associated with nutrient metabolism, muscle strength, agility, and other traits responsible for hunting and meat digestion. We found genetic evidence that genomes represent what animals eat through modifying genes. Highly conserved genetically relevant regions were discovered in genomes at the family level. Also, the Felidae family genomes exhibited low levels of genetic diversity associated with decreased population sizes, presumably because of their strict diet, suggesting their vulnerability and critical conservation status. Our findings can be used for human health enhancement, since we share the same genes as cats with some variation. This is an example how wildlife genomes can be a critical resource for human evolution, providing key genetic marker information for disease treatment.
Kim, Soonok; Yun Sung Cho; Jong Bhak; Stephen J. O'Brien; and Joo-Hong Yeo. 2017. "Perspectives Provided by Leopard and Other Cat Genomes: How Diet Determined the Evolutionary History of Carnivores, Omnivores, and Herbivores." BMB Reports 50, (1): 3-4. doi:10.5483/BMBRep.2017.50.1.002.