The Ruminant Genome Project reveals the secret life of deer



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Three teams of researchers working independently conducted three specific ruminant studies – a class of mammals that obtains plant nutrients by fermenting them in chamber stomachs. The work was part of a general project called, of course, the Ruminant Genome Project. All three teams were composed of members from various institutions in China and some other countries. All three groups published their findings in the journal Science. In addition, Dai Fei Elmer Ker and Yunzhi Peter Yang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Stanford University, respectively, published a Perspective article outlining the work of the three teams in the same issue of the journal.

Domesticated ruminants, such as sheep and cows, are important to humans. Others are important because of their unique physical characteristics. Deer horns, for example, grow exceptionally quickly, and reindeer live in the Arctic without freezing or suffering depression due to long winter nights. In this new effort, all three teams sought to learn more about particular aspects of these unique mammals.

In the first study, the researchers pooled the genomes of 44 ruminants, covering all six members of the Ruminantia families. They created a phylogenetic tree for the group, which helped to clarify some of the mysteries of family history. He also showed that the group as a whole suffered severe declines in population, coinciding with humans migrating out of Africa.

The work of the second team involved studying ruminant headgear – horns, antlers, horns and ossicles. They found that, despite their physical differences, the bony bonnet shared many similarities. They also found that the reason deer antlers regenerate so quickly is because they exploit the signaling pathways associated with cancer. Deer also have tumor suppressor genes that prevent the growth of tumors in their antlers – information that may be helpful in cancer research.

Particular adaptations of reindeer to the polar area. Credit: Dr. Wen Wang, Northwest Polytechnic University, Mr. Zhe Si

The third team focused more specifically on reindeer – they wanted to know how deer can survive in such a cold and harsh environment, and why they do not succumb to depression during long, dark winters. To find out, they studied the reindeer genome and found that reindeer have unique genes related to vitamin D metabolism and circadian arrhythmia, and also to the growth of female horns. And their unique digestive system helps them survive with limited plant growth.

Deer deploy cancer genes in rapid horn regeneration, and at the same time, their tumor suppressor genes change a lot. Credit: Dr. Wen Wang, Northwest Polytechnic University, Mr. Zhe Si

Shining horns have failed, so the Finns try to save the reindeer.

More information:
Lei Chen et al. Large-scale ruminant genome sequencing provides information on its evolution and distinct characteristics, Science (2019) DOI: 10.1126 / science.aav6202

Yu Wang et al. Genetic bases of the ruminant helmet and rapid regeneration of horns, Science (2019) DOI: 10.1126 / science.aav6335

Zeshan Lin et al. Biological adaptations in the arctic deer, the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), Science (2019) DOI: 10.1126 / science.aav6312

© 2019 Science Network X

The Ruminant Genome Project reveals the deer's secret life (2019, June 21)
recovered on June 21, 2019

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