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G3 (Bethesda). 2018 Jul 2;8(7):2145-2152. doi: 10.1534/g3.118.200318.

A High Quality Genome for Mus spicilegus, a Close Relative of House Mice with Unique Social and Ecological Adaptations.

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High Performance Computing Center.
Department of Integrative Biology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.
Department of Integrative Biology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078


Genomic data for the closest relatives of house mice (Mus musculus species complex) are surprisingly limited. Here, we present the first complete genome for a behaviorally and ecologically unique member of the sister clade to house mice, the mound-building mouse, Mus spicilegus Using read cloud sequencing and de novo assembly we produced a 2.50 Gbp genome with a scaffold N50 of 2.27 Mbp. We constructed >25 000 gene models, of which the majority had high homology to other Mus species. To evaluate the utility of the M. spicilegus genome for behavioral and ecological genomics, we extracted 196 vomeronasal receptor (VR) sequences from our genome and analyzed phylogenetic relationships between M. spicilegus VRs and orthologs from M. musculus and the Algerian mouse, M. spretus While most M. spicilegus VRs clustered with orthologs in M. musculus and M. spretus, 10 VRs with evidence of rapid divergence in M. spicilegus are strong candidate modulators of species-specific chemical communication. A high quality assembly and genome for M. spicilegus will help to resolve discordant ancestry patterns in house mouse genomes, and will provide an essential foundation for genetic dissection of phenotypes that distinguish commensal from non-commensal species, and the social and ecological characteristics that make M. spicilegus unique.


Mus spicilegus; de novo genome assembly; mound-building mouse; read cloud; vomeronasal receptors

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