Genomics in Pleistocene Park: On the Internal Causes Driving Extinction

Jacob Kostecke & Dr. Weilong Hao, Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, 5047 Gullen Mall, Detroit, MI 48202

Many large mammals from woolly mammoths to saber-tooth tigers went extinct around 12,000 years ago during the last great Ice Age. Though external factors such as ancient human hunting, climate change, and even asteroid impacts have been speculated, the determining forces driving massive extinction remains elusive. Recent analyses on abundant genomic data suggest that elevated genetic mutations can cause extinction. In this study, we took advantage of the recently available and well preserved mitochondrial DNAs from extinct mammals to identify genetic mechanisms driving the extinction of megafauna. We compared substitution patterns between 24 extinct animals and their living relatives. This was accomplished through the use of the bioinformatic software Geneious Prime and phylogenetic trees. Overall, extinct mammals show more C → T and A → G substitutions on the light strand, but fewer G → A and T → C substitutions than their living relatives in the Cytochrome C Oxidase and ATP Synthase complexes. This suggests subtle differences in DNA replication and/or repair between the extinct lineages and living relatives. Our study sheds light on the understanding of mechanistic factors in massive extinction and will help generate knowledge to prevent future extinctions.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Jacob Kostecke

Institution: Wayne State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 2572