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Contact: Mary Kohut
Press@plos.org
415-568-3457
Public Library of Science

Unraveling the natural history of the lion using host and virus population genomics

The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the world's most charismatic carnivores. In an article published November 7 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics, an international team of researchers provides insights into the genetic structure and history of lion populations. Their work refutes the hypothesis that African lions consist of a single, randomly breeding (panmictic) population. It also indicates the importance of preserving populations in decline as opposed to prioritizing larger-scale conservation efforts.

Understanding the broader aspects of the evolutionary history of the lion has been hindered by a lack of comprehensive sampling and appropriately informative genetic markers. Nevertheless, the unique social ecology of lions and the well-documented infectious diseases they have experienced, including lion-specific feline immunodeficiency virus (FIVPle), provides the opportunity to study lion evolutionary history using both host and virus genetic information.

In total, a comprehensive sample of 357 individuals from most of the major lion populations in Africa and Asia were studied. The authors compared the large multigenic dataset from lions with patterns of genetic variation of FIVPle to characterize the genomic legacy of lion populations. The research reveals evidence of unsuspected genetic diversity even in the well-studied lion population of the Serengeti ecosystem, which consists of recently admixed animals derived from three distinct genetic groups.

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PLEASE ADD THIS LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT:
http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000251 (link will go live on Friday, November 7)

CITATION: Antunes A, Troyer JL, Roelke ME, Pecon-Slattery J, Packer C, et al. (2008) The Evolutionary Dynamics of the Lion Panthera leo Revealed by Host and Viral Population Genomics. PLoS Genet 4(11): e1000251. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000251

CONTACT:


Dr. Warren E. Johnson
Laboratory of Genomic Diversity,
National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD
Office phone: 301-846-7483
Cell phone: 240-405-2833

PLEASE MENTION THE OPEN-ACCESS JOURNAL PLoS GENETICS (www.plosgenetics.org) AS THE SOURCE FOR THIS ARTICLE AND PROVIDE A LINK TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE TEXT. THANK YOU.

PLoS Genetics is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal published weekly by the Public Library of Science (PLoS).

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About PLoS Genetics

PLoS Genetics (http://www.plosgenetics.org) reflects the full breadth and interdisciplinary nature of genetics and genomics research by publishing outstanding original contributions in all areas of biology. All works published in PLoS Genetics are open access. Everything is immediately and freely available online throughout the world subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.



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