Mapping whole genome shotgun sequence and variant calling in mammalian species without their reference genomes

Ted Kalbfleisch, Michael P. Heaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Genomics research in mammals has produced reference genome sequences that are essential for identifying variation associated with disease. High quality reference genome sequences are now available for humans, model species, and economically important agricultural animals. Comparisons between these species have provided unique insights into mammalian gene function. However, the number of species with reference genomes is small compared to those needed for studying molecular evolutionary relationships in the tree of life. For example, among the even-toed ungulates there are approximately 300 species whose phylogenetic relationships have been calculated in the 10k trees project. Only six of these have reference genomes: cattle, swine, sheep, goat, water buffalo, and bison. Although reference sequences will eventually be developed for additional hoof stock, the resources in terms of time, money, infrastructure and expertise required to develop a quality reference genome may be unattainable for most species for at least another decade. In this work we mapped 35 Gb of next generation sequence data of a Katahdin sheep to its own species' reference genome (Ovis aries Oar3.1) and to that of a species that diverged 15 to 30 million years ago (Bos taurus UMD3.1). In total, 56% of reads covered 76% of UMD3.1 to an average depth of 6.8 reads per site, 83 million variants were identified, of which 78 million were homozygous and likely represent interspecies nucleotide differences. Excluding repeat regions and sex chromosomes, nearly 3.7 million heterozygous sites were identified in this animal vs. bovine UMD3.1,representing polymorphisms occurring in sheep. Of these, 41% could be readily mapped to orthologous positions in ovine Oar3.1 with 80% corroborated as heterozygous. These variant sites, identified via interspecies mapping could be used for comparative genomics, disease association studies, and ultimately to understand mammalian gene function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2-244.v2
StatePublished - Feb 10 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Kalbfleisch T and Heaton MP.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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