Shark genomes provide insights into elasmobranch evolution and the origin of vertebrates

Yuichiro Hara, Kazuaki Yamaguchi, Koh Onimaru, Mitsutaka Kadota, Mitsumasa Koyanagi, Sean D. Keeley, Kaori Tatsumi, Kaori Tanaka, Fumio Motone, Yuka Kageyama, Ryo Nozu, Noritaka Adachi, Osamu Nishimura, Reiko Nakagawa, Chiharu Tanegashima, Itsuki Kiyatake, Rui Matsumoto, Kiyomi Murakumo, Kiyonori Nishida, Akihisa TerakitaShigeru Kuratani, Keiichi Sato, Susumu Hyodo, Shigehiro Kuraku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


Modern cartilaginous fishes are divided into elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates) and chimaeras, and the lack of established whole-genome sequences for the former has prevented our understanding of early vertebrate evolution and the unique phenotypes of elasmobranchs. Here we present de novo whole-genome assemblies of brownbanded bamboo shark and cloudy catshark and an improved assembly of the whale shark genome. These relatively large genomes (3.8–6.7 Gbp) contain sparse distributions of coding genes and regulatory elements and exhibit reduced molecular evolutionary rates. Our thorough genome annotation revealed Hox C genes previously hypothesized to have been lost, as well as distinct gene repertories of opsins and olfactory receptors that would be associated with adaptation to unique underwater niches. We also show the early establishment of the genetic machinery governing mammalian homoeostasis and reproduction at the jawed vertebrate ancestor. This study, supported by genomic, transcriptomic and epigenomic resources, provides a foundation for the comprehensive, molecular exploration of phenotypes unique to sharks and insights into the evolutionary origins of vertebrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1771
Number of pages11
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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