Peromyscus Genome Project

Image source: Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

About the Project

The genomes of mice of the Peromyscus genus are being sequenced to understand natural genetic variation in present-day wild rodent populations. The genus contains two of the most abundant native North American mammals, the deer mouse and the white-footed mouse. Peromyscus serves as an outgroup to the laboratory rodents (Mus domesticus and Rattus norvegicus) with a common ancestor 25 to 55 MYA compared to 10-40 MYA for the mouse and rat common ancestor. 

Wild Peromyscus with traits of interest can be easily moved into laboratory colonies to study the traits in controlled conditions.  Natural mutations affecting behavior, physiology and coat color and leading to movement disorders, epilepsy, and cancer are maintained in pure-breeding lines. These outbred animals are also used for studies of diabetes, alcohol metabolism, and aging research.

The Peromyscines are reservoirs of infectious diseases that affect humans and other animals such as cattle, including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Lyme disease, and vesicular stomatitis virus in cattle. They are natural models for environmental toxicology studies.  Imprinting, X-inactivation and placental and embryonic development are studied in crosses between Peromyscus species.

Genes involved in chronic repetitive behavior, partner fidelity, and tunnel digging behavior as well as habitat adaptations such as coloration, photoperiod sensitivity and altitude adaptation are studied in these species.

A high-quality draft genome of P. maniculatus was sequenced and assembled using the 454 sequencing technology. Genetic, cytogenetic and a mouse synteny maps are available to place the sequences in the genome. Three other species, are being sequenced using the BLA technology for comparative analyses.


This project is funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health. The white paper describing this project was developed by Michael Felder in collaboration with the HGSC.

Genomic Resources

Access to the Data

Other Resources