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Camel Beginnings

Camels, known for their ability to carry heavy loads and to go without water for a long time, fall into two species: the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) and the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius). Pamela Burger and Nicola Palmieri from the Institute for Population Genomics in Austria, who study camel domestication, generated a genome sequence of a Bactrian camel, called Mozart, and reported in the Journal of Heredity that that the dromedary shares about 85 percent of its expressed sequence with the Bactrian camel.

Using the Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx, Burger and Palmieri generated 20 gigabases of raw reads that they assembled into 781,462 contigs. From their analyses and comparisons to other domestic ungulates, the researchers found that the Bactrian camel has nucleotide diversity similar to those species.

"Mozart's genome provides us with the basis for further comparative research on other camelids such as dromedary, llama, and alpaca," Burger said in a statement. In the paper, she and Palmieri note that further study of camel genomes may elucidate camel domestication.