Flipping over genomes

Today we release the genomes of three dolphins of the genus Stenella: Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), and Eastern spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris orientalis).


All three are relatively small dolphins ranging from approximately 5 to 7 feet long (1.5 to 2 meters) and weighing 200 to 300 pounds (90 to 140 kg). As their names imply, the two spotted dolphin species develop spots with age, though they are born without spots. Spinner dolphins get their name from being one of the most aerial dolphins, often leaping from the water and spinning up to seven times.


Spinner dolphins and pantropical dolphins can be found across tropical and subtropical oceans (sometimes schooling together!), whereas the Atlantic spotted dolphin can be found in temperate, subtropical and subtropical waters throughout the Atlantic. There are four subspecies of spinner dolphins, and this genome is of the Eastern spinner dolphin (S. l. orientalis) specifically. Like all marine mammals, these dolphins are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata) by NOAA Photo Library, [CC-BY-2.0], via flickr.com
Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) by NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) by Alexander Vasenin, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia.org

All genomes were generated following the $1K strategy described in (Dudchenko et al., 2018). See our Methods page for more details.


This work was performed under Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) Permit No. 18786-03 issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) specimen used for this study was collected by Kristi West (Hawaii Pacific University) and Greg Levine from Oahu, HI. The Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) specimen used for this study was collected by Wayne McFee (NOAA) and Jessica Conway from Hunting Island, SC. The Eastern spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris orientalis) specimen used for this study was collected by Erin Meagher (University of North Carolina, Wilmington) from the Eastern Tropical Pacific. The specimens were provided by the National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank, which is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the NIST Biorepository, which is operated under the direction of NMFS with the collaboration of USGS, USFWS, MMS, and NIST through the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.


See the alignment plots below for information on how the assembled chromosomes across these three species relate to each other and to those of the Pacific white-sided dolphin previously assembled to chromosome-length by the DNA Zoo and used here as an outgroup.