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Ground tit genome studied by Ornithological Research Group of the Institute of Zoology reveals avian adaptation to living at high altitudes in the Tibetan plateau
2013-08-07 | 【print】【close

The ground tit (Parus humilis) is endemic to the Tibetan plateau. It was thought to be close to the ground jays because of their morphological similarities until recently more evidences suggest their “tit” taxonomic status. Ornithological Research group led by Prof. Lei Fumin from Institute of Zoology, CAS, cooperated with Novogene Bioinformatics Institute, presents the ground tit’s genome and re-sequences of other two tits (great tit and yellow-cheeked tit) and one ground jay, to further clarify this controversially taxonomic status and uncover its genetic adaptations to the Tibetan Plateau. The results show that ground tit is sister to yellow-cheeked tit and great tit. These three species diverged between 7.7 and 9.9 Mya. Compared with other available avian genomes, ground tit shows gene expansion related to energy metabolism and, contraction involved in immune and olfactory perception. We also found positively selected and rapidly evolving genes in hypoxia response and skeletal development. These results indicate that ground tit evolves basic strategies and ‘tit-to-jay’ change for coping with the life in an extreme environment.  

This work was published in Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/ncomms3071. 


This research was funded by the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scientists (No. 30925008), Major International (Regional) Joint Research Project (No. 31010103901) and the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX2-EW-J-2 and KSZD-EW-Z-005-003). 


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