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Development of an 8K SNP chip to assess adaptive diversity and hybridization in polar bears

June 13, 2024

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a species particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As the climate warms, polar bears will be forced to move to more suitable habitats which are likely to shrink, adapt to the new conditions, or decline in population size. However, the genomic diversity within and among all 19 subpopulations of polar bears, and therefore their adaptive potential, is currently unknown. In addition, warmer climates are likely to result in more frequent contact between polar bears and grizzly bears (U. arctos), with which they can hybridize. Here we describe the development, quality control, and application of the Ursus maritimus V2 SNP chip. This 8 K SNP chip contains loci explicitly selected to assess both RAD-derived and transcriptome-derived loci, as well as SNPs to detect hybridization between species. A total of 7,239 loci (90.3% of those printed) were successfully genotyped, with over 99% genotype concordance for individuals typed in duplicate on this chip, and between individuals typed here and on the Ursus maritimus V1 SNP chip. Using simulations, we demonstrate that the markers have high accuracy and efficiency to detect hybridization and backcrosses between polar bears and grizzly bears. However, empirical analysis of 371 polar bears, 440 grizzly bears, and 8 known hybrids found no novel instances of recent hybridization. The Ursus maritimus V2 SNP chip provides a powerful tool for monitoring the adaptive potential of this species along with assessing population structure, quantitative genomics, and hybridization in polar bears.

Publication Year 2024
Title Development of an 8K SNP chip to assess adaptive diversity and hybridization in polar bears
DOI 10.1007/s12686-024-01359-1
Authors Joshua D. Miller, Rene Malenfant, L. Ruth Rivkin, Todd C. Atwood, Steven Baryluk, Erik W. Born, Rune Dietz, Kristen L. Laidre, Jodie Pongracz, Evan Richardson, Øystein Wiig, Corey Davis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Genetics Resources
Index ID 70255707
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Ecosystems