Genomic Studies of the Domestic Cat (Felis catus)
The cat was domesticated around 10,000 years ago, since then this new species no longer obligates to the pressure of natural selection and hence accumulates mutations that are both neutral and deleterious. With the variable artificial selection of human preferences, cats with certain traits were selectively bred, resulting the tremendous variations in modern domestic cat. Thus cat serves as an ideal model to facilitate a better understanding of the known genetic pathways and more importantly to explore the unknown mysteries hidden in the genome. Our research takes the advantage of the latest cat whole genome assembly and the cutting edge sequencing technologies to unravel the genetic mechanism underlying the inherited traits of domestic cats, including:
- Coat color is one of the most variable inherited traits displayed in domestic cat. Several types of coat color have been well studied, and the corresponding genetic basis was understood. Some unique coat color of domestic cat may provide a good opportunity to understand the pigmentation pathways that we cannot learn from human or lab mouse.
- Genetic diseases were reported in a large portion of cat breeds, and some resembled inherited syndromes of human. Thus domestic cat became a good model to study genetic disease and would benefit human medicine. In addition, genetic disease study would facilitate in improving cat breeds, through breeding out the impaired alleles.
- Functional genomics of free-ranging wildlife
- Conservation genomics of endangered wildlife species
- Field ecology and landscape conservation of the tiger