Tiger Genome Sequenced

TigerThe first sequenced tiger genome shows that big cats evolved to kill.

Genes for strong muscle fibers and for meat-eating appear narrowly shared, researchers reported, among species as distinct as the African lion and Asia’s snow leopard.

Scientists mapped the genes of the endangered Siberian tiger (or Amur tiger), both to understand the genes that make big cat species distinct from one another and to aid efforts to preserve genetic diversity in wild tiger populations.

The largest tiger subspecies, Siberian tigers weigh as much as 660 pounds (300 kilograms) and grow to some ten feet (three meters) in length. Only about 450 Siberian tigers exist in the wild, and around 4,000 tigers total are thought to remain in their natural habitats.

“We looked at this very large tiger first to see what made it distinctive from other cats,” said genome expert Jong Bhak of South Korea’s Personal Genomics Institute in Suwon, a co-author of the Nature Communications study reporting the mapping of the Siberian tiger genome.

Bhak and colleagues sampled genes from a nine-year-old male tiger at the Everland Zoo in Korea, and compared them with gene map information from the Bengal tiger, lion, and snow leopard.

source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130917-tiger-genome-sequenced-siberian-lion-cats-science?source=sailthru

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