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Nat Ecol Evol. 2019 Aug;3(8):1241-1252. doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0945-8. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards.

Author information

1
Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA, USA.
2
Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
3
Department of Biology, University of Florence, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy.
4
Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
5
Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, University of Padova, Legnaro, Italy.
6
Department of Ecology, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.
7
Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Liběchov, Czech Republic.
8
Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology SB RAS, Novosibirsk, Russia.
9
B.U. Bioscience, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
10
Prague Zoological Garden, Prague, Czech Republic.
11
Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Victoria, Australia.
12
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.
13
Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo, Escondido, CA, USA.
14
Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, USA.
15
School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA.
16
Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
17
Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA, USA. katherine.pollard@gladstone.ucsf.edu.
18
Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. katherine.pollard@gladstone.ucsf.edu.
19
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. katherine.pollard@gladstone.ucsf.edu.
20
Institute for Computational Health Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. katherine.pollard@gladstone.ucsf.edu.
21
Chan-Zuckerberg BioHub, San Francisco, CA, USA. katherine.pollard@gladstone.ucsf.edu.
22
Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA, USA. benoit.bruneau@gladstone.ucsf.edu.
23
Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. benoit.bruneau@gladstone.ucsf.edu.
24
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. benoit.bruneau@gladstone.ucsf.edu.

Abstract

Monitor lizards are unique among ectothermic reptiles in that they have high aerobic capacity and distinctive cardiovascular physiology resembling that of endothermic mammals. Here, we sequence the genome of the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, the largest extant monitor lizard, and generate a high-resolution de novo chromosome-assigned genome assembly for V. komodoensis using a hybrid approach of long-range sequencing and single-molecule optical mapping. Comparing the genome of V. komodoensis with those of related species, we find evidence of positive selection in pathways related to energy metabolism, cardiovascular homoeostasis, and haemostasis. We also show species-specific expansions of a chemoreceptor gene family related to pheromone and kairomone sensing in V. komodoensis and other lizard lineages. Together, these evolutionary signatures of adaptation reveal the genetic underpinnings of the unique Komodo dragon sensory and cardiovascular systems, and suggest that selective pressure altered haemostasis genes to help Komodo dragons evade the anticoagulant effects of their own saliva. The Komodo dragon genome is an important resource for understanding the biology of monitor lizards and reptiles worldwide.

PMID:
31358948
PMCID:
PMC6668926
[Available on 2020-01-29]
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-019-0945-8

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