Yakutia (Sakha Republic, Russian Federation) is the coldest country in the Northern hemisphere with winter record temperatures as low as -70ºC. Despite such extreme conditions, the Yakut people succeeded in developing an economy based on extensive horse and cattle breeding. In contrast to cattle, that are parked in stables at winter, horses do not receive much human care, living all the year in the open air and grazing on vegetation that is under deep snow cover for 7-8 months. Unsurprisingly, Yakutian horses developed amazing adaptations to life in the cold Arctic, including exceptional hair densities for domestic horses and spectacular capacities for regulating their metabolism. The origin of Yakutian horses is controversial. In the YAKUT project, we will use cutting-edge genomic tools including genomics, transcriptomics and epigenomics, together with state-of-the-art methods in ancient DNA research, to reconstruct the evolutionary history of Yakutian horses from its mysterious origins to its adaptation to life in the Arctic. Our extensive genomic dataset will provide essential information to foster efforts for developing sound management strategies to preserve this unique genetic heritage. Following seasonal gene expression levels and associated epigenetic modifications at the whole genome scale, we will reveal for the first time the mechanisms responsible for the exceptional metabolic adaptations found in Yakutian horses. Overall, the YAKUT project aims at understanding the process of natural selection underlying the adaptation of a domestic breed to life in an extreme environment.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/genome
- /humanities/history and archaeology/history
Call for proposal
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