World Lagomorph Society
World Lagomorph Society
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Chromosome-Level Reference Genome Assembly for the American Pika (Ochotona princeps)
B. M. F. Sjodin, K. E. Galbreath, H. C. Lanier, M. A. Russello

The American pika (Ochotona princeps) is an alpine lagomorph found throughout western North America. Primarily inhabiting talus slopes at higher elevations (>2000 m), American pikas are well adapted to cold, montane environments. Warming climates on both historical and contemporary scales have contributed to population declines in American pikas, positioning them as a focal mammalian species for investigating the ecological effects of climate change. To support and expand ongoing research efforts, here, we present a highly contiguous and annotated reference genome assembly for the American pika (OchPri4.0). This assembly was produced using Dovetail de novo proximity ligation methods and annotated through the NCBI Eukaryotic Genome Annotation pipeline. The resulting assembly was chromosome- scale, with a total length of 2.23 Gb across 9350 scaffolds and a scaffold N50 of 75.8 Mb. The vast majority (>97%) of the total assembly length was found within 36 large scaffolds; 33 of these scaffolds correlated to whole autosomes, while the X chromosome was covered by 3 large scaffolds. Additionally, we identified 17 enriched gene ontology terms among American pika-specific genes putatively related to adaptation to high-elevation environments. This high-quality genome assembly will serve as a springboard for exploring the evolutionary underpinnings of behavioral, ecological, and taxonomic diversification in pikas as well as broader-scale eco-evolutionary questions pertaining to cold-adapted species in general.

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Document Information
Publish date: May 2021
Edition: Journal of Heredity