Comparative genomic analyses have been instrumental for the study of a wide range of hereditary and infectious diseases and physical traits. However, to fully interpret the results of these studies and to take full advantage of the large amounts of genomic data that is being generated by next-generation sequencing methods, it is necessary to interpret the results in the context of population and evolutionary history. This involves not only a more precise description of the phylogenetic relationships among species, but also an assessment of the uniqueness among populations. We recently completed a long ongoing study of the remnant Florida panther project (Puma concolor coryi) in southern Florida. In 1995, conservation managers translocated eight female pumas (P. c. stanleyana) from Texas to increase depleted genetic diversity, improve population numbers and reverse indications of inbreeding depression. We assessed the demographic, population-genetic and biomedical consequences of this restoration experiment and showed that panther numbers increased three-fold, genetic heterozygosity doubled, survival and fitness measures improved and inbreeding correlates declined significantly. Our comparative genomic studies have included many of the members of the Felid family but have recently also included other carnivores and vertebrate species. The number of available species for genomic comparisons is rapidly increasing, and we have been actively collaborating with researchers at the Broad Institute, Washington University Sequencing Center, and Shenzhen-BGI in developing, annotating, and interpreting whole genome resources, in conjunction with the G10K community of scientists who are helping coordinate access to samples and analyze the data. These data will inform comparative studies of gene function and genomic organization, and will provide additional resources for population genetic studies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Investigator-Initiated Intramural Research Projects (ZIA)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
National Cancer Institute Division of Basic Sciences
Zip Code
Hostetler, Jeffrey A; Onorato, David P; Bolker, Benjamin M et al. (2012) Does genetic introgression improve female reproductive performance? A test on the endangered Florida panther. Oecologia 168:289-300
Perelman, Polina; Johnson, Warren E; Roos, Christian et al. (2011) A molecular phylogeny of living primates. PLoS Genet 7:e1001342
Benson, John F; Hostetler, Jeffrey A; Onorato, David P et al. (2011) Intentional genetic introgression influences survival of adults and subadults in a small, inbred felid population. J Anim Ecol 80:958-67
da Fonseca, Rute R; Johnson, Warren E; O'Brien, Stephen J et al. (2010) Molecular evolution and the role of oxidative stress in the expansion and functional diversification of cytosolic glutathione transferases. BMC Evol Biol 10:281
Hostetler, Jeffrey A; Onorato, David P; Nichols, James D et al. (2010) Genetic Introgression and the Survival of Florida Panther Kittens. Biol Conserv 143:2789-2796
Luo, Shu-Jin; Johnson, Warren E; O'Brien, Stephen J (2010) Applying molecular genetic tools to tiger conservation. Integr Zool 5:351-62
Johnson, Warren E; Onorato, David P; Roelke, Melody E et al. (2010) Genetic restoration of the Florida panther. Science 329:1641-5
Eizirik, Eduardo; Murphy, William J; Koepfli, Klaus-Peter et al. (2010) Pattern and timing of diversification of the mammalian order Carnivora inferred from multiple nuclear gene sequences. Mol Phylogenet Evol 56:49-63
Driscoll, Carlos A; Clutton-Brock, Juliet; Kitchener, Andrew C et al. (2009) The Taming of the cat. Genetic and archaeological findings hint that wildcats became housecats earlier--and in a different place--than previously thought. Sci Am 300:68-75
Roelke, Melody E; Brown, Meredith A; Troyer, Jennifer L et al. (2009) Pathological manifestations of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in wild African lions. Virology 390:1-12

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications