Minke whale genome and aquatic adaptation in cetaceans

Hyung Soon Yim, Yun Sung Cho, Xuanmin Guang, Sung Gyun Kang, Jae Yeon Jeong, Sun Shin Cha, Hyun Myung Oh, Jae Hak Lee, Eun Chan Yang, Kae Kyoung Kwon, Yun Jae Kim, Tae Wan Kim, Wonduck Kim, Jeong Ho Jeon, Sang Jin Kim, Dong Han Choi, Sungwoong Jho, Hak Min Kim, Junsu Ko, Hyunmin KimYoung Ah Shin, Hyun Ju Jung, Yuan Zheng, Zhuo Wang, Yan Chen, Ming Chen, Awei Jiang, Erli Li, Shu Zhang, Haolong Hou, Tae Hyung Kim, Lili Yu, Sha Liu, Kung Ahn, Jesse Cooper, Sin Gi Park, Chang Pyo Hong, Wook Jin, Heui Soo Kim, Chankyu Park, Kyooyeol Lee, Sung Chun, Phillip A. Morin, Stephen J. O'Brien, Hang Lee, Jumpei Kimura, Dae Yeon Moon, Andrea Manica, Jeremy Edwards, Byung Chul Kim, Sangsoo Kim, Jun Wang, Jong Bhak, Hyun Sook Lee, Jung Hyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

199 Scopus citations


The shift from terrestrial to aquatic life by whales was a substantial evolutionary event. Here we report the whole-genome sequencing and de novo assembly of the minke whale genome, as well as the whole-genome sequences of three minke whales, a fin whale, a bottlenose dolphin and a finless porpoise. Our comparative genomic analysis identified an expansion in the whale lineage of gene families associated with stress-responsive proteins and anaerobic metabolism, whereas gene families related to body hair and sensory receptors were contracted. Our analysis also identified whale-specific mutations in genes encoding antioxidants and enzymes controlling blood pressure and salt concentration. Overall the whale-genome sequences exhibited distinct features that are associated with the physiological and morphological changes needed for life in an aquatic environment, marked by resistance to physiological stresses caused by a lack of oxygen, increased amounts of reactive oxygen species and high salt levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-92
Number of pages5
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No animals were killed or captured as a result of these studies. Samples of four minke whales and a finless porpoise for sequencing were acquired from the east coast of Korea after they were accidently killed and investigated by the maritime police. The sample from a bottlenose dolphin was obtained from Marine Park in Jeju Island, Korea. The fin whale sample was collected from a dead stranded fin whale by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC 134239) under US Marine Mammal Permit 14097-01, and the sample was transported internationally under a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permit. We thank C.-W. Kim (Marine Park Co., Ltd.) and Y.-R. An (Cetacean Research Institute) for the bottlenose dolphin and minke whale samples, respectively. We also thank M. Bhak for editing. We thank many people not listed as authors who provided feedback, samples and encouragement, especially the Cetacean Research Institute in Ulsan, Korea. This work was supported by the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) in-house program (PE98993), the Marine and Extreme Genome Research Center program of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea. This work was also supported by the Industrial Strategic Technology Development Program 10040231,


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