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Cetaceans evolution: insights from the genome sequences of common minke whales

Genomics
Animal | Whale
BMC Genomics | 22 Jan 2015
Background

Whales have captivated the human imagination for millennia. These incredible cetaceans are the only mammals that have adapted to life in the open oceans and have been a source of human food, fuel and tools around the globe. The transition from land to water has led to various aquatic specializations related to hairless skin and ability to regulate their body temperature in cold water.

Results

We present four common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) genomes with depth of?×13?~?×17 coverage and perform resequencing technology without a reference sequence. Our results indicated the time to the most recent common ancestors of common minke whales to be about 2.3574 (95% HPD, 1.1521 ? 3.9212) million years ago. Further, we found that genes associated with epilation and tooth-development showed signatures of positive selection, supporting the morphological uniqueness of whales.

Conclusions

This whole-genome sequencing offers a chance to better understand the evolutionary journey of one of the largest mammals on earth.

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