TitleRecapitulating whole genome based population genetic structure for Indian wild tigers through an ancestry informative marker panel
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsKhan A, Krishna S.M., Ramakrishnan U, Das R
Journal Heredity (Edinb)
Date Published12/2021

Identification of genetic structure within wildlife populations have implications in their conservation and management. Accurately inferring population genetic structure requires whole-genome data across the geographical range of the species, which can be resource-intensive. A cheaper strategy is to employ a subset of markers that can efficiently recapitulate the population genetic structure inferred by the whole genome data. Such ancestry informative markers (AIMs), have rarely been developed for endangered species such as tigers utilizing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Here, we first identify the population structure of the Indian tiger using whole-genome sequences and then develop an AIMs panel with a minimum number of SNPs that can recapitulate this structure. We identified four population clusters of Indian tigers with North-East, North-West, and South Indian tigers forming three separate groups, and Terai and Central Indian tigers forming a single cluster. To evaluate the robustness of our AIMs, we applied it to a separate dataset of tigers from across India. Out of 92 SNPs present in our AIMs panel, 49 were present in the new dataset. These 49 SNPs were sufficient to recapitulate the population genetic structure obtained from the whole genome data. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first-ever SNP-based AIMs panel for big cats, which can be used as a cost-effective alternative to whole-genome sequencing for detecting the biogeographical origin of Indian tigers. Our study can be used as a guideline for developing an AIMs panel for the management of other endangered species where obtaining whole genome sequences are difficult.