Shark genomes provide insights into elasmobranch evolution and the origin of vertebrates.

Nature Ecology & Evolution
Yuichiro HaraShigehiro Kuraku


Modern cartilaginous fishes are divided into elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates) and chimaeras, and the lack of established whole-genome sequences for the former has prevented our understanding of early vertebrate evolution and the unique phenotypes of elasmobranchs. Here we present de novo whole-genome assemblies of brownbanded bamboo shark and cloudy catshark and an improved assembly of the whale shark genome. These relatively large genomes (3.8-6.7 Gbp) contain sparse distributions of coding genes and regulatory elements and exhibit reduced molecular evolutionary rates. Our thorough genome annotation revealed Hox C genes previously hypothesized to have been lost, as well as distinct gene repertories of opsins and olfactory receptors that would be associated with adaptation to unique underwater niches. We also show the early establishment of the genetic machinery governing mammalian homoeostasis and reproduction at the jawed vertebrate ancestor. This study, supported by genomic, transcriptomic and epigenomic resources, provides a foundation for the comprehensive, molecular exploration of phenotypes unique to sharks and insights into the evolutionary origins of vertebrates.


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