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Digging up mole-rat assembly data

The Cape dune mole-rat, Bathyergus suillus is the largest of the African mole-rats in the family Bathyergidae. It is a truly subterranean mammal that attains a body mass of up to 2 kg and uses its claws and extrabuccal teeth to excavate its burrow system.

Cape dune mole-rat, photo by Nigel Bennett (University of Pretoria)

It is a strictly solitary species with plural occupancy of burrows occurring during the breeding season and when the female has young. It is a seasonal breeder that cues its breeding to the rainfall of the southern hemisphere winter. The Cape dune mole-rat is endemic to South Africa being found in the coarse sands of the western and southern Cape of South Africa where is excavates it deep foraging tunnels in search of corms, tubers, bulbs as well as undermining aboveground vegetation.

Today we release the chromosome-length genome assembly for the Cape dune mole-rat (Bathyergus suillus) generated using a sample from a captive female animal from South Africa collected by Nigel Bennett at the University of Pretoria. Read about the exciting research on physiology and behavior of the African mole-rats on the Bennett lab website here. We also thank Wook Namkoong and Jenny Tung (Duke University, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology) for their help with sample shipment.

Check out the interactive contact map for the Hi-C data remapped to the final genome (2n=56) assembly below, and read more about African mole-rats in this book by Chris G. Faulkes and Nigel C. Bennett:

Bennett, N.C and Faulkes, C.G. Ecology and Eusociality of African mole-rats. Cambridge University press. 273pp.

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