University of Oulu

Dussex, N., Alberti, F., Heino, M.T. et al. Moose genomes reveal past glacial demography and the origin of modern lineages. BMC Genomics 21, 854 (2020).

Moose genomes reveal past glacial demography and the origin of modern lineages

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Author: Dussex, Nicolas1,2,3; Alberti, Federica4,5; Heino, Matti T.1,2,6,7;
Organizations: 1Centre for Palaeogenetics, Svante Arrhenius väg 20C, SE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden
2Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Box 50007, SE-10405, Stockholm, Sweden
3Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, SE-10691, Stockholm, Sweden
4Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, 14476, Potsdam, Germany
5Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Zeughaus C5, 68159, Mannheim, Germany
6Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
7History, Culture and Communication Studies, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 1000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
8Science for Life Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University, Box 1031, SE-17121, Solna, Sweden
9Department of Archeology and Classical studies, Stockholm University, SE-10691, Stockholm, Sweden
10The Institute of Problems in Ecology and Mineral Wealth, Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, 420087, Kazan, Russia
11Curt-Engelhorn-Center Archaeometry, C4, 8, D-68159, Mannheim, Germany
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-15


Background: Numerous megafauna species from northern latitudes went extinct during the Pleistocene/Holocene transition as a result of climate-induced habitat changes. However, several ungulate species managed to successfully track their habitats during this period to eventually flourish and recolonise the holarctic regions. So far, the genomic impacts of these climate fluctuations on ungulates from high latitudes have been little explored. Here, we assemble a de-novo genome for the European moose (Alces alces) and analyse it together with re-sequenced nuclear genomes and ancient and modern mitogenomes from across the moose range in Eurasia and North America.

Results: We found that moose demographic history was greatly influenced by glacial cycles, with demographic responses to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition similar to other temperate ungulates. Our results further support that modern moose lineages trace their origin back to populations that inhabited distinct glacial refugia during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Finally, we found that present day moose in Europe and North America show low to moderate inbreeding levels resulting from post-glacial bottlenecks and founder effects, but no evidence for recent inbreeding resulting from human-induced population declines.

Conclusions: Taken together, our results highlight the dynamic recent evolutionary history of the moose and provide an important resource for further genomic studies.

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Series: BMC genomics
ISSN: 1471-2164
ISSN-E: 1471-2164
ISSN-L: 1471-2164
Volume: 21
Issue: 1
Article number: 854
DOI: 10.1186/s12864-020-07208-3
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: M.T.H. acknowledges funding from Emil Aaltonen Foundation. D.D.d.M. and N.D. are funded by the Carl Tryggers Foundation (CTS 17:109 and 19:257). L. D acknowledges support from FORMAS (grant 2018–01640) and the Swedish Research Council (grant 2017–04647). We also acknowledge support from the Uppsala Multidisciplinary Centre for Advanced Computational Science for assistance with massively parallel sequencing and access to the UPPMAX computational infrastructure. Parts of this study (F.A., D.D., R.F., S.L., W.R., M.H.) were funded by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung Heidelberg within the project “Eiszeitfenster Oberrheingraben” at the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen Mannheim. Open Access funding provided by Stockholm University.
Copyright information: © The Author(s). 2020. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.