Examining the Effects of Hibernation on Germline Mutation Rates in Grizzly Bears.

TitleExamining the Effects of Hibernation on Germline Mutation Rates in Grizzly Bears.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWang, RJ, Peña-Garcia, Y, Bibby, MG, Raveendran, M, Harris, RA, Jansen, HT, Robbins, CT, Rogers, J, Kelley, JL, Hahn, MW
JournalGenome Biol Evol
Date Published2022 Oct 07
KeywordsAnimals, Germ Cells, Germ-Line Mutation, Hibernation, Male, Mutation Rate, Phylogeny, Ursidae

A male mutation bias is observed across vertebrates, and, where data are available, this bias is accompanied by increased per-generation mutation rates with parental age. While continuing mitotic cell division in the male germline post puberty has been proposed as the major cellular mechanism underlying both patterns, little direct evidence for this role has been found. Understanding the evolution of the per-generation mutation rate among species requires that we identify the molecular mechanisms that change between species. Here, we study the per-generation mutation rate in an extended pedigree of the brown (grizzly) bear, Ursus arctos horribilis. Brown bears hibernate for one-third of the year, a period during which spermatogenesis slows or stops altogether. The reduction of spermatogenesis is predicted to lessen the male mutation bias and to lower the per-generation mutation rate in this species. However, using whole-genome sequencing, we find that both male bias and per-generation mutation rates are highly similar to that expected for a non-hibernating species. We also carry out a phylogenetic comparison of substitution rates along the lineage leading to brown bear and panda (a non-hibernating species) and find no slowing of the substitution rate in the hibernator. Our results contribute to accumulating evidence that suggests that male germline cell division is not the major determinant of mutation rates and mutation biases. The results also provide a quantitative basis for improved estimates of the timing of carnivore evolution.

Alternate JournalGenome Biol Evol
PubMed ID36173788
PubMed Central IDPMC9596377

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