Department of Entomology, College of Plant Protection, China Agricultural University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China 100193
Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park
Jilin Provincial Academy of Forestry Sciences
Northeast Forestry University College of Wildlife and Protected Area
This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (2572022DQ03), National Natural Science Foundation of China (32170517) and the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Genome Read and Write (grant No. 2017B030301011). This work was also supported by China National GeneBank (CNGB).
The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) and Amur leopard (P. pardus orientalis) are two sympatric but competitive apex predators coexisting in the forests of Northeast Asia. They are both highly endangered animals on the planet, and their conservation is of great symbolic significance. Here we assembled a haplotype-resolved and chromosome-scale genome of a wild Amur leopard, and make a comparative genomic analysis with the same level Amur tiger genome. Comprehensive comparative genomic analysis identified several genes and pathways that potentially underlie adaptations to cold endurance, vision, hearing, smell, bone formation, and development. These adaptations likely facilitate the survival of Amur tigers and leopards as large predators in the cold northern environment. We also found genomic signatures related to these characteristics in Amur tigers than in Amur leopards, partly explaining the possible genomic basis for their coexistence and competition. Our findings improve our understanding of how Amur tigers and leopards co-adapt, and provide valuable genome-wide genetic information for further conservation of these two most endangered big cats.