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Population genomics reveal recent speciation and rapid evolutionary adaptation in polar bears

Liu, Shiping; Lorenzen, Eline D.; Fumagalli, Matteo; Li, Bo; Harris, Kelley; Xiong, Zijun; Zhou, Long; Korneliussen, Thorfinn Sand; Somel, Mehmet; Babbitt, Courtney; Wray, Greg; Li, Jianwen; He, Weiming; Wang, Zhuo; Fu, Wenjing; Morgan, Claire C.; Doherty, Aoife; O'Connell, Mary J.; McInerney, James O.; Born, Erik W.; Dal�n, Love; Dietz, Rune; Orlando, Ludovic; Sonne, Christian; Xiang, Xueyan; Zhang, Guojie; Nielsen, Rasmus; Willerslev, Eske; Wang, Jun


Shiping Liu

Eline D. Lorenzen

Matteo Fumagalli

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Senior Research Fellow

Kelley Harris

Zijun Xiong

Long Zhou

Thorfinn Sand Korneliussen

Mehmet Somel

Courtney Babbitt

Greg Wray

Jianwen Li

Weiming He

Zhuo Wang

Wenjing Fu

Claire C. Morgan

Aoife Doherty

Erik W. Born

Love Dal�n

Rune Dietz

Ludovic Orlando

Christian Sonne

Xueyan Xiang

Guojie Zhang

Rasmus Nielsen

Eske Willerslev

Jun Wang


Polar bears are uniquely adapted to life in the High Arctic and have undergone drastic physiological changes in response to Arctic climates and a hyperlipid diet of primarily marine mammal prey. We analyzed 89 complete genomes of polar bear and brown bear using population genomic modeling and show that the species diverged only 479-343 thousand years BP. We find that genes on the polar bear lineage have been under stronger positive selection than in brown bears; nine of the top 16 genes under strong positive selection are associated with cardiomyopathy and vascular disease, implying important reorganization of the cardiovascular system. One of the genes showing the strongest evidence of selection, APOB, encodes the primary lipoprotein component of low-density lipoprotein (LDL); functional mutations in APOB may explain how polar bears are able to cope with life-long elevated LDL levels that are associated with high risk of heart disease in humans. PaperClip © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Liu, S., Lorenzen, E. D., Fumagalli, M., Li, B., Harris, K., Xiong, Z., …Wang, J. (2014). Population genomics reveal recent speciation and rapid evolutionary adaptation in polar bears. Cell, 157(4), 785-794.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 4, 2014
Online Publication Date May 8, 2014
Publication Date May 8, 2014
Deposit Date Jun 30, 2020
Journal Cell
Print ISSN 0092-8674
Electronic ISSN 1097-4172
Publisher Elsevier (Cell Press)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 157
Issue 4
Pages 785-794
Public URL
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