A multi-platform draft de novo genome assembly and comparative analysis for the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao). Academic Article uri icon


  • Data deposition to NCBI Genomes: This Whole Genome Shotgun project has been deposited at DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank under the accession AMXX00000000 (SMACv1.0, unscaffolded genome assembly). The version described in this paper is the first version (AMXX01000000). The scaffolded assembly (SMACv1.1) has been deposited at DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank under the accession AOUJ00000000, and is also the first version (AOUJ01000000). Strong biological interest in traits such as the acquisition and utilization of speech, cognitive abilities, and longevity catalyzed the utilization of two next-generation sequencing platforms to provide the first-draft de novo genome assembly for the large, new world parrot Ara macao (Scarlet Macaw). Despite the challenges associated with genome assembly for an outbred avian species, including 951,507 high-quality putative single nucleotide polymorphisms, the final genome assembly (>1.035 Gb) includes more than 997 Mb of unambiguous sequence data (excluding N's). Cytogenetic analyses including ZooFISH revealed complex rearrangements associated with two scarlet macaw macrochromosomes (AMA6, AMA7), which supports the hypothesis that translocations, fusions, and intragenomic rearrangements are key factors associated with karyotype evolution among parrots. In silico annotation of the scarlet macaw genome provided robust evidence for 14,405 nuclear gene annotation models, their predicted transcripts and proteins, and a complete mitochondrial genome. Comparative analyses involving the scarlet macaw, chicken, and zebra finch genomes revealed high levels of nucleotide-based conservation as well as evidence for overall genome stability among the three highly divergent species. Application of a new whole-genome analysis of divergence involving all three species yielded prioritized candidate genes and noncoding regions for parrot traits of interest (i.e., speech, intelligence, longevity) which were independently supported by the results of previous human GWAS studies. We also observed evidence for genes and noncoding loci that displayed extreme conservation across the three avian lineages, thereby reflecting their likely biological and developmental importance among birds.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 29.84

author list (cited authors)

  • Seabury, C. M., Dowd, S. E., Seabury, P. M., Raudsepp, T., Brightsmith, D. J., Liboriussen, P., ... Tizard, I. R.

citation count

  • 50

complete list of authors

  • Seabury, Christopher M||Dowd, Scot E||Seabury, Paul M||Raudsepp, Terje||Brightsmith, Donald J||Liboriussen, Poul||Halley, Yvette||Fisher, Colleen A||Owens, Elaine||Viswanathan, Ganesh||Tizard, Ian R

editor list (cited editors)

  • Janke, A.

publication date

  • May 2013