A sharp looking genome

North American porcupine is a large rodent in the New World porcupine family. There are only three genera in this family: Erethizon, Chaetomys and Coendou. Recently we assembled the Brazilian porcupine Coendou prehensilis, one of 16 species from the tree porcupines (Coendou) genus.


Today, we share the chromosome-length assembly for the North American porcupine Erethizon dorsatum, the only member of the Erethizon genus. This genome assembly is based on the draft generated by Canada’s genomic enterprise, shared here. We thank Houston Zoo’s North American porcupine Ernie for the sample used for Hi-C library preparation!


Check out below how the 21 chromosomes of the new North American porcupine genome assembly relate to those of the Brazilian porcupine. Despite the animals being relatively close relatives, with only 10 million years since the species diverged [1], the karyotypes are rather different, with a lot of chromosome breaks in the Brazilian porcupine as compared to the North American one (North American porcupine chr 2 corresponds to chr 3 and 14 in the Brazilian porcupine; chr 3 to chro 33 and 37 etc.). Compare this to the last 10 million years of cat nap!

Left: whole genome alignment plot between the new assembly for the North American porcupine (GSC_porc_1.0_HiC) and the chromosome-length assembly for the Brazilian porcupine (Coendou_prehensilis_HiC). Right: same plot for the clouded leopard (Neofelis_nebulosa_HiC) and domestic cat (Felis_catus_8.0) genome assemblies. Despite the fact that the pairs of species on the left and the right plot are separated by the same evolutionary distance (~10MY), multiple large-scale chromosomal events have left their trace in the New World porcupine lineage while the feline karyotype remained essentially unchanged.

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