The genome sequence of Tibetan antelope sheds new light on high-altitude adaptation

May 17, 2013

Why Tibetan antelope can live at elevations of 4,000-5,000m on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau? In a collaborative research published in Nature Communications, investigators from Qinghai University, BGI, and other institutes provide evidence that some genetic factors may be associated with the species' adaption to harsh highland environments. The data in this work will also provide implications for studying specific genetic mechanisms and the biology of other ruminant species.

The Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) is a native of the high mountain steppes and semi-desert areas of the . Interestingly, it is the only member of the genus Pantholops. Tibetan antelope is a medium sized antelope with the unique adaptations to against the harsh high-altitude climate. For non-native mammals such as humans, they may experience life-threatening when visiting high-altitude regions.

In this study, researchers suggest that Tibetan antelopes must have evolved exceptional mechanisms to adapt to this extremely inhospitable habitat. Using next-gen sequencing technology, they have decoded the genome of Tibetan antelope and studied the underlying genetic mechanism of high-altitude adaptations.

Through the comparison between Tibetan antelope and other plain-dwelling mammals, researchers found the Tibetan antelope had the signals of and gene-family expansion in genes associated with and oxygen transmission, indicating that gene categories involved in energy metabolism appear to have an important role for Tibetan antelope via efficiently providing energy in conditions of low partial pressure of oxygen (PO2).

Further research revealed that both the Tibetan antelope and the highland American pika have signals of positive selection for genes involved in DNA repair and the production of ATPase. Considering the exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation, positive selective genes related to may be vital to protect the Tibetan antelope from it.

Qingle Cai, Project manager from BGI, said, "The completed genome sequence of the Tibetan antelope provides a more complete blueprint for researchers to study the of highland adaptation. This work may also open a new way to understand the adaptation of the low partial pressure of oxygen in human activities."

Explore further: Quakes destroy or damage 83 houses in Philippines

Related Stories

Tibetan glaciers melting, says Dalai Lama

Apr 02, 2011

(AP) -- The Dalai Lama said Saturday that India should be seriously concerned about the melting of glaciers in the Tibetan plateau as millions of Indians use water that comes from there.

Researchers discover important woolly rhino fossil

Sep 01, 2011

A paper to be published on September 2, 2011 in the authoritative magazine Science reveals the discovery of a primitive woolly rhino fossil in the Himalayas, which suggests some giant mammals first evolve ...

Tibetan antelope slowly recovering, WCS says

Feb 01, 2007

Returning from a recent 1,000-mile expedition across Tibet's remote Chang Tang region, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) biologist George Schaller reports that the Tibetan antelope -- once the target of rampant poaching ...

What can 'ring species' teach us about evolution?

Mar 12, 2013

Ten thousand years ago, at the end of the last ice age, a species of greenish warblers lived in a forest south of the Tibetan Plateau. As the ice receded, the forest grew to form a ring around the plateau—and so did the ...

Recommended for you

Kiribati leader visits Arctic on climate mission

10 hours ago

Fearing that his Pacific island nation could be swallowed by a rising ocean, the president of Kiribati says a visit to the melting Arctic has helped him appreciate the scale of the threat.

NASA catches a weaker Edouard, headed toward Azores

Sep 19, 2014

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Atlantic Ocean and captured a picture of Tropical Storm Edouard as it continues to weaken. The National Hurricane Center expects Edouard to affect the western Azores ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

betterexists
1 / 5 (1) May 17, 2013
If only deers, Goats etc can also be introduced into such environments using its genes! One day the information gathered from such studies will be useful to Humans.