A Reference Genome Assembly of American Bison, Bison bison bison

Jonas Oppenheimer, Benjamin D. Rosen, Michael P. Heaton, Brian L. Vander Ley, Wade R. Shafer, Fred T. Schuetze, Brad Stroud, Larry A. Kuehn, Jennifer C. Mcclure, Jennifer P. Barfield, Harvey D. Blackburn, Theodore S. Kalbfleisch, Derek M. Bickhart, Kimberly M. Davenport, Kristen L. Kuhn, Richard E. Green, Beth Shapiro, Timothy P.L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Bison are an icon of the American West and an ecologically, commercially, and culturally important species. Despite numbering in the hundreds of thousands today, conservation concerns remain for the species, including the impact on genetic diversity of a severe bottleneck around the turn of the 20th century and genetic introgression from domestic cattle. Genetic diversity and admixture are best evaluated at genome-wide scale, for which a high-quality reference is necessary. Here, we use trio binning of long reads from a bison-Simmental cattle (Bos taurus taurus) male F1 hybrid to sequence and assemble the genome of the American plains bison (Bison bison bison). The male haplotype genome is chromosome-scale, with a total length of 2.65 Gb across 775 scaffolds (839 contigs) and a scaffold N50 of 87.8 Mb. Our bison genome is ∼13× more contiguous overall and ∼3400× more contiguous at the contig level than the current bison reference genome. The bison genome sequence presented here (ARS-UCSC-bison1.0) will enable new research into the evolutionary history of this iconic megafauna species and provide a new tool for the management of bison populations in federal and commercial herds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-183
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J.O. was supported by the National Institutes of Health (T32 HG008345-01) and B.S. and J.O. were supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (DEB-1754451). Funding for this research was provided by the USDA, ARS-appropriated projects 3040-31000-100-00D (T.P.L.S. and L.A.K.) and 5438-32000-034- 00D (M.P.H.), The University of Nebraska Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center project 2162390003 (B.L.V.L.) and the Nebraska Beef Industry Endowment 2662390323001 (B.L.V.L.). The reproductive and animal husbandry portions of the project were supported by the American Simmental Association. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The American Genetic Association.


  • Genome resources
  • bovine
  • interspecies hybrid
  • nanopore sequencing
  • trio binning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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