Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Evolution

Cat DNA shaped by diet

Carnivores have experienced stronger natural selection than plant-eating animals, perhaps because of their limited diet.

Joo-Hong Yeo at the National Institute of Biological Resources in the Republic of Korea and his colleagues compared the genomes of 18 mammals, including carnivores such as leopards, omnivores such as humans, and herbivores such as giant pandas. They found that carnivore genomes have lost many genes for carbohydrate digestion, and share changes to genes involved in muscle strength and agility, making them good hunters. By contrast, omnivore and herbivore genomes shared fewer adaptations with others in their groups, suggesting that their diets have imposed weaker selection compared with that of carnivores.

Many big cats showed recent losses in genetic diversity, suggesting that population declines may be linked to their strict diet.

Genome Biol. 17, 211 (2016)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cat DNA shaped by diet. Nature 539, 142–143 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/539142d

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/539142d

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing