Genomic signatures of high-altitude adaptation in Ethiopian sheep populations. uri icon

abstract

  • BackgroundEthiopian sheep populations such as Arsi-Bale, Horro and Adilo (long fat-tailed, LFT) inhabit mid to high-altitude areas; and Menz sheep (MZ, short fat-tailed) are adapted to cool sub-alpine environments. In contrast, Blackhead Somali sheep (BHS, fat-rumped) thrive well in arid and semi-arid areas characterized by high temperature and low precipitation. The genomic investigation of Ethiopian sheep populations may help to identify genes and biological pathways enable to adapt to the different ecological conditions.ObjectiveTo uncover genomic regions and genes showing evidence of positive selection for altitude adaptation in Ethiopian sheep populations.MethodsA total of 72 animals inhabiting high-versus low-altitude environments were genotyped on an Ovine Infinium HD array (similar to 600K). Pairwise genetic differentiation (Fst) was calculated in sliding windows of 20 SNPs and the upper 1% smoothed Fst values were considered to represent positive selection signatures. Genes within<25kb of the most differentiated SNPs were considered as selection candidates.ResultsSignatures of selection were detected in genes known to be associated high with altitude adaptation in MZ-BHS pair comparison (PPP1R12A, RELN, PARP2, and DNAH9) and in LFT-BHS pair comparison (VAV3, MSRB3,EIF2AK4, MET, and TACR1). The candidate genes (MITF, FGF5, MTOR, TRHDE, and TUBB3) associated with altitude adaptation and shared between the MZ-BHS and LTF-BHS pair comparisons were also detected as under selection. Further functional analyses reveal that the candidate genes were involved in biological processes and pathways relevant to adaptation under extreme altitudes, including respiratory system development and smoothened signaling pathway.ConclusionThe results of the present study could aid in-depth understanding and exploitation of the underlying genetic mechanisms for sheep and other livestock species adaptation to high-altitude environments.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019