Gene expression is implicated in the ability of pikas to occupy Himalayan elevational gradient. [Next Gen Genomics Facility]

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TitleGene expression is implicated in the ability of pikas to occupy Himalayan elevational gradient. [Next Gen Genomics Facility]
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSolari KA, Ramakrishnan U, Hadly EA
JournalPLoS One
Volume13
Issue12
Paginatione0207936
Date Published2018
ISSN1932-6203
Abstract

Species are shifting their ranges due to climate change, many moving to cooler and higher locations. However, with elevation increase comes oxygen decline, potentially limiting a species' ability to track its environment depending on what mechanisms it has available to compensate for hypoxic stress. Pikas (Family Ochotonidae), cold-specialist small mammal species, are already undergoing elevational range shifts. We collected RNA samples from one population of Ochotona roylei in the western Himalaya at three sites- 3,600, 4,000, and 5,000 meters-and found no evidence of significant population genetic structure nor positive selection among sites. However, out of over 10,000 expressed transcripts, 26 were significantly upregulated at the 5,000 m site and were significantly enriched for pathways consistent with physiological compensation for limited oxygen. These results suggest that differences in gene expression may play a key role in enabling hypoxia tolerance on this local scale, indicating elevational flexibility that may facilitate successful range shifts in response to climate change.

DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0207936
Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID30540800