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A genome for Uncle Fester

The Argentine black and white tegu, also known as the giant tegu, is the largest species of tegu lizards. A rare trait in the overwhelmingly cold-blooded lizard family, they can raise their body temperature by up to 10°C above their surroundings [1]!

Tegus are very affectionate and often kept as pets. Unfortunately, escaped and released tegus pose a serious threat to endangered species in environments like South Florida where it is classified as invasive species [2].

Today, we are releasing two chromosome-length genome assemblies for the giant tegu, both based on work from Michael Hiller's group at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics to create the first ever genomics resource for Lacertoidea lizards.

The first assembly is based on the draft from (Roscito, Sameith & Parra et al., Nature Genetics, 2018) generated using the Illumina sequencing technology. The second assembly is generated using the later upgrade of the draft from (Roscito et al., GigaScience, 2018) that uses Pacific Biosciences long reads.

The blood sample for in situ Hi-C preparation was donated by a male individual named Uncle Fester, and provided to us by Shedd Aquarium.

See how the 19 chromosomes of the Argentine black and white tegu relate to those of the anole lizard, genome assembly from (Alföldi, Di Palma et al., Nature, 2011):

Whole genome alignment showing the correspondence between the 19 chromosomes of the Argentine black and white tegu and the assembled chromosomes of the green anole lizard, AnoCar2.0 assembly from (Alföldi, Di Palma et al., 2011).

Also, check out some examples of the intricate chromosome-wide folding patterns of the Argentine tegu genome, below, illustrating the formation of a chromosome-wide 3D clique – a feature rarely seen in mammals.

Thing, you're a handful!

Screenshot from Juicebox Assembly Tools (Dudchenko et al., bioRxiv, 2018), showing a fragment of the Hi-C map featuring two chromosomes, outlined in blue.

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