Urbanisation and land fragmentation represent two of the main causes of population decline of the Bobcat (Lynx rufus), an elegant American Felidae. So far, research for the conservation of this species has been based mainly on behavioural and genetic studies, but epigenetics may represent a keystone for understanding how the Bobcat is adapting to the changes in its habitat.
Indeed, the present study, originating from the collaboration between University of Vermont and the DISAA Animal Genetics Laboratory (Stefano Frattini, Andrea Talenti, Matteo Cortellari, Alessio Negro, Arianna Bionda), coordinated by Prof. Paola Crepaldi, aimed to determine the methylation level of DNA extracted from the liver of 30 Bobcats. The DNA methylation is an epigenetic feature influenced by (and influencing) many factors including age, habitat, maternal diet, and developmental stage.
This analysis revealed that global genomic DNA methylation ranged from 0.46% to 2.46%, but no correlations with the animals’ age, weight or gender were found. These results reinforce the need for further epigenetics research on wildlife, with a larger sample size and different analytic methods applied on different tissues, in order to increase tools at our disposal for the conservation of endangered species.
Figure: Bobcat (Lynx rufus), taken at Sunol Park near Livermore CA, USA. [ source Wikipedia.org, https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx_rufus#/media/File:Bobcat2.jpg ].
Cantrell B., Friedman S., Lachance H., Bernier C., Murdoch B., Frattini S., Talenti A., Crepaldi P., McKay S. (2020). A novel understanding of global DNA methylation in bobcat (Lynx rufus). Genome, 63 (125-130) [doi:10.1139/gen-2019-0046].