The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) is the largest of the tapirs and the only remaining species of tapir in the Old World . The Malayan tapir was first listed as endangered in 1986, due to an ongoing decline from loss of available habitat, fragmentation of remaining habitat and increasing hunting pressure. Population declines are estimated to be greater than 50% in the past 30 years! This situation is sadly expected to continue at a slightly diminishing rate in the future as non-protected areas, which are available as logging concessions, become less available [1, 2].
To help with the ongoing conservation efforts and genetics research, today, we share a chromosome-length genome assembly for the Malayan tapir Kruze from the San Antonio Zoo. That’s him on the cover photo! See this video featuring Kruze and learn more about Malayan tapirs. The genome assembly follows the $1K model described in (Dudchenko et al., 2018).
Tapirs are odd-toed ungulates (Perissodactyla) and close relatives to rhinos and horses. See below how the genome of the Malayan tapir relates to those of its relatives. The plots confirm extremely rapid karyotypic diversification in perissodactyls suspected from multidirectional cross-species painting (see, e.g. Trifonov et al., Chromosome Res. 2008), with multiple instances of chromosome fragmentation in the rhino as compared to the tapir, and many chromosomal exchanges in the equid lineage.
Cover photo credit: San Antonio Zoo.