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Warrior gerbil

The Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, originated from the harsh highland region of Mongolia. In their natural habitats, they have to withstand major temperature shifts from -40°C in winter to 50°C in the summer [1]. But today, a large population of Mongolian gerbils find themselves inside the temperate homes of their owners or within the strictly controlled laboratory setting. Their scientific name in Latin, Meriones unguiculatus, directly translates into "little clawed warrior". However, the Mongolian gerbil is actually quite docile and calm, one of the reasons why they make such a great house pet and model species for research [2].

Mongolian Gerbil by Alastair RaeFollow, [CC BY-SA 2.0], via

Today, we release the chromosome-length upgrade for the Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, based on the draft assembly by Cheng et. al (2019). The sample used for this upgrade was a primary fibroblast cell line provided by the T.C. Hsu Cryo-Zoo. We thank Drs. Asha Multani, Sen Pathak, Richard Behringer, Liesl Nel-Themaat and Arisa Furuta in the Department of Genetics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center for their help with this sample. This cell line was originally frozen back in 1978, check out how vigorously it cultured below!

Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, primary fibroblast cell line from the T.C. Hsu Cryo-Zoo collection in culture.

Don't forget to explore the interactive contact map of the 22 chromosomes of Meriones unguiculatus, and visit the assembly page for more details!

We have released the chromosome-length assemblies for 3 other rodent species turned common house pets: the Chinese hamster (C. griseus), Golden hamster (M. auratus), and the Fat-tailed gerbil (P. duprasi). If you're broadly interested in rodents, you're in luck as we have a total of 23 rodent species assembled in our collection. Stay tuned for more releases for all kinds by subscribing to our mailing list below or following us on Twitter @thednazoo!

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