Does an extreme climate force wild and domestic animals to evolve similarly?

Denis Larkin (primary)
Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Royal Veterinary College
Camilla Benfield (secondary)
Pathobiology and Population Sciences
Royal Veterinary College


Different animal species living in extreme environments often attain changes in the same genes suggesting that the same adaptation mechanisms are utilised. Recently we found that a cattle breed able to survive extreme climates of Siberia (-70 C at winters) contains an exactly the same coding mutation in the gene NRAP as cold adapted species like walrus, seals, sea lions, and hibernating bats. Also, cold and hot climate-adapted cattle have similar changes in genes leading to inability to feel extreme temperatures. This project will focus on investigating what genetic changes form in cold and hot adapted populations/species and on their functional effect in livestock and wild animals.


1. Buggiotti L, Yurchenko AA, Yudin NS, Vander Jagt CJ, Vorobieva NV, Kusliy MA, Vasiliev SK, Rodionov AN, Boronetskaya OI, Zinovieva NA, Graphodatsky AS, Daetwyler HD, Larkin DM. Demographic history, adaptation, and NRAP convergent evolution at amino acid residue 100 in the world northernmost cattle from Siberia. Mol Biol Evol. 2021. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msab078. Epub ahead of print
2. Parker J, Tsagkogeorga G, Cotton JA, Liu Y, Provero P, Stupka E, Rossiter SJ. Genome-wide signatures of convergent evolution in echolocating mammals. Nature. 2013 Oct 10;502(7470):228-31. doi: 10.1038/nature12511

Genes, development and STEM* approaches to biology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BioinformaticsMicroscopy / ElectrophysiologyMolecular Biology