Three teams of scientists working independently have conducted three specific studies on ruminants – a class of mammals that get nutrients from plants by fermenting it into companion stomachs. The work was part of an overall project called, naturally, Ruminant Genome Project. All three teams consisted of members from several institutions in China and a few other countries. All three groups have published their findings in the journal Science . In addition, Dai Fei Elmer Ker and Yunzhi Peter Yang with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Stanford University have published a perspective piece describing the work of the three teams in the same journal edition.
Domesticated ruminants like sheep and cows are important to humans. Others are important because of their unique physical properties. For example, the deer horns grow rapidly, and reindeer live in the Arctic without freezing or suffer from depression due to long winter evenings. In this new effort, all three teams tried to learn more about certain aspects of these unique mammals.
In the first study, the researchers sat alongside the 44 rominists covering all six members of the Ruminantia families. They created a phylogenetic tree for the group that helped clean up some of the mysteries of family history. It also emerged that the group as a whole suffered from severe falls in the population, which coincided with people who walked out of Africa.
The second team's work involved studying ruminant headgear horns, antlers, pronghorns, and oscones. They found that despite their physical differences, the bony headgear shared many similarities. They also found that the reason for the deer horn regenerate so quickly is because they utilize cancer-related signaling pathways. The heart also has tumor suppressing genes that prevent tumors from growing in their vertebral information that may be useful in cancer research.
The third team focused mostly on reindeer. They wanted to know how the deer manage to survive in such a cold, harsh environment, and why they don't succumb to depression in long, dark winters. To find out, they studied the reindeer genome and discovered that reindeer have unique genes related to the metabolism of vitamin D and circadian arrhythmias, and also to female antler growth. And their unique digestive system helps them survive by limited plant growth.
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Lei Chen et al. Large-scale stem cell genome sequencing provides insight into their evolution and various traits, Science (2019). DOI: 10.1126 / science.aav6202
Yu Wang et al. Genetic basis of headgear of ruminants and rapid regeneration, Science (2019). DOI: 10.1126 / science.aav6335
Zeshan Lin et al. Biological adaptations in the arctic cervid, the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), Science (2019). DOI: 10.1126 / science.aav6312
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Ruminant Genome Project Reveals Her Heart's Secret Life (2019, June 21)
June 23, 2019
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