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Tracking the origins of Yakutian horses and the genetic basis for their fast adaptation to subarctic environments

Pablo Librado 1 Clio Der Sarkissian 1 Luca Ermini 1 Mikkel Schubert 1 Hákon Jónsson 1 Anders Albrechtsen 2 Matteo Fumagalli 3 Melinda Yang 4 Cristina Gamba 1 Andaine Seguin-Orlando 1, 5 Cecilie Mortensen 5 Bent Petersen 6 Cindi Hoover 7 Belen Lorente-Galdos 8, 9 Artem Nedoluzhko 10 Eugenia Boulygina 10 Svetlana Tsygankova 10 Markus Neuditschko 11 Vidhya Jagannathan 12 Catherine Thèves 13 Ahmed Alfarhan 14 Saleh Alquraishin 14 Khaled Al-Rasheidn 14 Thomas Sicheritz-Ponten 6 Ruslan Popov 15 Semyon Grigoriev 16 Anatoly N Alekseev 16 Edward Rubin 7 Molly Mccue 17 Stefan Rieder 11 Tosso Leeb 12 Alexei Tikhonov 18 Eric Crubézy 13 Montgomery Slatkin 4 Tomas Marques-Bonet 8, 9 Rasmus Nielsen 19 Eske Willerslev 1 Juha Kantanen 20, 21 Egor Prokhortchouk 10 Ludovic Orlando 1, 13
Abstract : Yakutia, Sakha Republic, in the Siberian Far East, represents one of the coldest places on Earth, with winter record temperatures dropping below −70 °C. Nevertheless, Yakutian horses survive all year round in the open air due to striking phenotypic adaptations, including compact body conformations, extremely hairy winter coats, and acute seasonal differences in metabolic activities. The evolutionary origins of Yakutian horses and the genetic basis of their adaptations remain, however, contentious. Here, we present the complete genomes of nine present-day Yakutian horses and two ancient specimens dating from the early 19th century and ∼5,200 y ago. By comparing these genomes with the genomes of two Late Pleistocene, 27 domesticated, and three wild Przewalski's horses, we find that contemporary Yakutian horses do not descend from the native horses that populated the region until the mid-Holocene, but were most likely introduced following the migration of the Yakut people a few centuries ago. Thus, they represent one of the fastest cases of adaptation to the extreme temperatures of the Arctic. We find cis-regulatory mutations to have contributed more than nonsynonymous changes to their adaptation, likely due to the comparatively limited standing variation within gene bodies at the time the population was founded. Genes involved in hair development, body size, and metabolic and hormone signaling pathways represent an essential part of the Yakutian horse adaptive genetic toolkit. Finally, we find evidence for convergent evolution with native human populations and woolly mammoths, suggesting that only a few evolutionary strategies are compatible with survival in extremely cold environments. ancient genomics | adaptation | population discontinuity | regulatory changes | horse
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Pablo Librado, Clio Der Sarkissian, Luca Ermini, Mikkel Schubert, Hákon Jónsson, et al.. Tracking the origins of Yakutian horses and the genetic basis for their fast adaptation to subarctic environments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2015, ⟨10.1073/pnas.1513696112⟩. ⟨hal-01256914⟩



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