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'Twas the Reindeer Genome

Sleigh bells might not yet be ringing, but researchers in China have sequenced the genome of the reindeer, Rangifer tarandus.

Researchers led by Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences' Guangyu Li obtained DNA from a domesticated R. tarandus living in Inner Mongolia, China, as they report this week in GigaScience. Using the Illumina Hiseq 4000 platform, they generated 615 gigabases that they assembled using SOAPdenovo. They assembled their reads a into 2.64 Gb genome, slightly smaller than the predicted size of 2.76 Gb, and annotated 21,555 protein-coding genes. Additionally, they say that 335 of the reindeer genes they identified were specific to reindeer. The researchers add in a press release that these genes could give insight into certain reindeer traits.

By comparing their newly generated R. tarandus genome to those of related species, Li and colleagues found that it and Bos taurus and Capra hircus diverged from a common ancestor about 29.5 million years ago.

No word on whether the reindeer genome sequence can explain just what made Rudolph's nose so bright.

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