Population genomics of the endangered giant Galápagos tortoise

Loire Etienne, Chiari Ylenia, Bernard Aurélien, Cahais Vincent, Romiguier J., Nabholz Benoit, Lourenco Joao M., Galtier Nicolas. 2013. Population genomics of the endangered giant Galápagos tortoise. Genome Biology, 14 (12) : R136.

Journal article ; Article de recherche ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact Revue en libre accès total
Published version - Anglais
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Quartile : Outlier, Sujet : BIOTECHNOLOGY & APPLIED MICROBIOLOGY / Quartile : Outlier, Sujet : GENETICS & HEREDITY

Abstract : Background The giant Galápagos tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra, is a large-sized terrestrial chelonian of high patrimonial interest. The species recently colonized a small continental archipelago, the Galápagos Islands, where it has been facing novel environmental conditions and limited resource availability. To explore the genomic consequences of this ecological shift, we analyze the transcriptomic variability of five individuals of C. nigra, and compare it to similar data obtained from several continental species of turtles. Results Having clarified the timing of divergence in the Chelonoidis genus, we report in C. nigra a very low level of genetic polymorphism, signatures of a weakened efficacy of purifying selection, and an elevated mutation load in coding and regulatory sequences. These results are consistent with the hypothesis of an extremely low long-term effective population size in this insular species. Functional evolutionary analyses reveal a reduced diversity of immunity genes in C. nigra, in line with the hypothesis of attenuated pathogen diversity in islands, and an increased selective pressure on genes involved in response to stress, potentially related to the climatic instability of its environment and its elongated lifespan. Finally, we detect no population structure or homozygosity excess in our five-individual sample. Conclusions These results enlighten the molecular evolution of an endangered taxon in a stressful environment and point to island endemic species as a promising model for the study of the deleterious effects on genome evolution of a reduced long-term population size. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Tortue terrestre, espèce en danger, Génétique des populations, génétique animale, Évolution, Facteur climatique, Facteur du milieu, Biologie moléculaire, Taxon

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Îles Galapagos

Mots-clés complémentaires : Chelonoidis nigra

Classification Agris : L20 - Animal ecology
L10 - Animal genetics and breeding
L50 - Animal physiology and biochemistry

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 6 (2005-2013) - Agriculture, environnement, nature et sociétés

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Loire Etienne, UM2 (FRA)
  • Chiari Ylenia, University of Alabama (USA)
  • Bernard Aurélien, UM2 (FRA)
  • Cahais Vincent, UM2 (FRA)
  • Romiguier J., UM2 (FRA)
  • Nabholz Benoit, ISEM (FRA)
  • Lourenco Joao M., UM2 (FRA)
  • Galtier Nicolas, UM2 (FRA)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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