Genetics news & views from students enrolled in BIOL 2110 at Stockton University.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Bear Breeds and Evolution
Is it possible to analyze the evolutionary history of all bears at the genome level? Now it is! Scientists have sequenced the entire genomes of four bear species. It shows that gene exchange between species occurs through extensive hybridization. DNA samples of different species were taken from European zoos that are important for both conservation and research. Through these studies, it discounts previous assumptions of hybrid bears occurring due to climate change.
I too was under the impression that climate change played a huge role in different hybrids of bear species. According to the article, brown bears invade northern regions and polar bears move onto the sea ice later than usual due to changes in climate. This new genomic data showed there must have been gene flow between the polar and sun bears, however the two live in completely different geographic areas and thus have never met. The researchers explanation of this suggested an "intermediate host" has passed the genes on in various directions.