Annotated Draft Genome Assemblies for the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and the Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata) Reveal Disparate Estimates of Modern Genome Diversity and Historic Effective Population Size. Academic Article uri icon


  • Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhite) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) populations have suffered precipitous declines across most of their US ranges. Illumina-based first- (v1.0) and second- (v2.0) generation draft genome assemblies for the scaled quail and the bobwhite produced N50 scaffold sizes of 1.035 and 2.042Mb, thereby producing a 45-fold improvement in contiguity over the existing bobwhite assembly, and 90% of the assembled genomes were captured within 1313 and 8990 scaffolds, respectively. The scaled quail assembly (v1.0=1.045Gb) was 20% smaller than the bobwhite (v2.0=1.254Gb), which was supported by kmer-based estimates of genome size. Nevertheless, estimates of GC content (41.72%; 42.66%), genome-wide repetitive content (10.40%; 10.43%), and MAKER-predicted protein coding genes (17,131; 17,165) were similar for the scaled quail (v1.0) and bobwhite (v2.0) assemblies, respectively. BUSCO analyses utilizing 3023 single-copy orthologs revealed a high level of assembly completeness for the scaled quail (v1.0; 84.8%) and the bobwhite (v2.0; 82.5%), as verified by comparison with well-established avian genomes. We also detected 273 putative segmental duplications in the scaled quail genome (v1.0), and 711 in the bobwhite genome (v2.0), including some that were shared among both species. Autosomal variant prediction revealed 2.48 and 4.17 heterozygous variants per kilobase within the scaled quail (v1.0) and bobwhite (v2.0) genomes, respectively, and estimates of historic effective population size were uniformly higher for the bobwhite across all time points in a coalescent model. However, large-scale declines were predicted for both species beginning 15-20 KYA.

published proceedings

  • G3 (Bethesda)

altmetric score

  • 3.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Oldeschulte, D. L., Halley, Y. A., Wilson, M. L., Bhattarai, E. K., Brashear, W., Hill, J., ... Seabury, C. M.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Oldeschulte, David L||Halley, Yvette A||Wilson, Miranda L||Bhattarai, Eric K||Brashear, Wesley||Hill, Joshua||Metz, Richard P||Johnson, Charles D||Rollins, Dale||Peterson, Markus J||Bickhart, Derek M||Decker, Jared E||Sewell, John F||Seabury, Christopher M

publication date

  • September 2017