Animals living at high altitudes have evolved distinct phenotypic and genotypic adaptations against stressful environments. We studied the adaptive patterns of altitudinal stresses on transcriptome turnover in subterranean plateau zokors (Myospalax baileyi) in the high-altitude Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Transcriptomes of zokors from three populations with distinct altitudes and ecologies (Low: 2846 m, Middle: 3282 m, High: 3,714 m) were sequenced and compared. Phylogenetic and principal component analyses classified them into three divergent altitudinal population clusters. Genetic polymorphisms showed that the population at H, approaching the uppermost species boundary, harbors the highest genetic polymorphism. Moreover, 1056 highly up-regulated UniGenes were identified from M to H. Gene ontologies reveal genes like EPAS1 and COX1 were overexpressed under hypoxia conditions. EPAS1, EGLN1, and COX1 were convergent in high-altitude adaptation against stresses in other species. The fixation indices (F ST and G ST )-based outlier analysis identified 191 and 211 genes, highly differentiated among L, M, and H. We observed adaptive transcriptome changes in Myospalax baileyi, across a few hundred meters, near the uppermost species boundary, regardless of their relatively stable underground burrows' microclimate. The highly variant genes identified in Myospalax were involved in hypoxia tolerance, hypercapnia tolerance, ATP-pathway energetics, and temperature changes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The National Natural Science Foundation of China (31370405), the Key Technology Research and Development Program of Qinghai Province (2014-NS-113), CAS Key Technology Talent Program, and the Ancell-Teicher Research Foundation for Genetics and Molecular Evolution and The Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (CAAS-ASTIP-2016-IAR) financially supported this work. Kexin Li thanks VATAT for its financial postdoc support in Israel. Somnath Tagore thanks VATAT (#22351, 2015–2018) for its financial postdoc support in Israel. We thank the Israel Cancer Association (#204562, 2017-2019) for its support. We Thank Dr. Qien Yang for his help in qRT-PCR analysis, Avigdor Beiles for comments improving the manuscript, and Dr. Naamah Bloch, Dr. Dorith Raviv-Shay and Robin Permut for proofreading the manuscript.
© 2018 The Author(s).
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