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We continue our exploration of flightless bird genomics with a chromosome-length upgrade to a southern cassowary genome assembly, also based on work from (Sackton et al., Science, 2019).


Southern cassowary is one of the three living species of cassowary, and is related to emus and rheas; see the relevant emu and rhea blog posts!


Thank you Houston Zoo for the sample used to prepare the Hi-C library!


Explore below the whole genome alignment plots for the new assembly. The results confirm our previous observation for extensive conservation of synteny between autosomes, observed all the way to chicken (100MY to common ancestor), but not so much for the sex chromosome (#5 for cassowary, #34 for the chicken genome assembly).

Whole-genome alignments between the new chromosome-length genome assembly of the southern cassowary, the emu and the chicken genome assembly (GRCg6a).

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Kinkajous (Potos flavus) are tropical forest mammals related to raccoons. Just like pandas, despite being classified in the carnivores order, their diet is mainly plant-based, and just like pandas, they have a number of cool adaptations to support the arboreal lifestyle. For example, kinkajous can rotate their ankles and feet 180° and have a prehensile tail!


Today, we share a chromosome-length short read-only assembly for Darwin, the male kinkajou living at Moody Gardens. Darwin is an ambassador animal for Moody Gardens, which means he helps educate the public about his species.


Previously, we have shared the short-read, $1K assembly for the common raccoon, a first-ever assembly in the raccoon (Procyonidae) family. Check out how the species relate to each other below!


Read more about the assembly strategy for the common raccoon and the kinkajou in (Dudchenko et al., bioRxiv, 2018).

Whole-genome alignments between the 19 chromosomes of the common raccoon (pl-1k genome assembly) and the 19 chromosomes of the kinkajou (Potos_flavus_HiC genome assembly). The species appear to have very similar karyotypes except for one chromosome (#7 in the kinkajou and #14 in the common raccoon).

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Today, we continue exploring paleognaths genomics with a chromosome-length assembly for another flightless bird, the greater rhea Rhea americana. Greater rheas are found throughout South America where they are the largest extant bird species. Their population is currently decreasing, and rheas are now listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN [1].


Just like our emu genome release from two weeks ago, this assembly is based on a recently published work by (Sackton et al., Science, 2019). The blood sample for Hi-C library preparation was donated by Huevo, a female greater rhea from the Houston Zoo.


We compare the genomes of the two chromosome-length paleognaths, the greater rhea and the emu (~60MY to common ancestor), as well as the genome of a representative neognath, the chicken (~100MY to common ancestor), below. Note extensive conservation of synteny between autosomes, observed all the way to chicken, but not so much for the sex chromosome (#1 in rhea, #34 in chicken).

Whole-genome alignment plots between the new chromosome-length genome assemblies of the greater rhea, emu and the chicken genome assembly (GRCg6a).

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