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Expanding the conservation genomics toolbox: incorporating structural variants to enhance genomic studies for species of conservation concern
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  • Jana Wold,
  • Klaus-Peter Koepfli,
  • Stephanie Galla,
  • Carolyn J. Hogg,
  • David Eccles,
  • Marissa Le Lec,
  • Joseph Guhlin,
  • Anna Santure,
  • Tammy Steeves
Jana Wold
University of Canterbury
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Klaus-Peter Koepfli
Smithsonian Conservat Biol Inst
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Stephanie Galla
University of Canterbury
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Carolyn J. Hogg
The University of Sydney
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David Eccles
Malaghan Institute of Medical Research
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Marissa Le Lec
University of Otago
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Joseph Guhlin
University of Otago
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Anna Santure
The University of Auckland
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Tammy Steeves
University of Canterbury
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Abstract

Structural variants (SVs) are large rearrangements (> 50 bp) within the genome that impact gene function and the content and structure of chromosomes. As a result, SVs are a significant source of functional genomic variation, i.e. variation at genomic regions underpinning phenotype differences, that can have large effects on individual and population fitness. While there are increasing opportunities to investigate functional genomic variation in threatened species via single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) datasets, SVs remain understudied despite their potential influence on fitness traits of conservation interest. In this future-focused Opinion, we contend that characterizing SVs offers the conservation genomics community an exciting opportunity to complement SNP-based approaches to enhance species recovery. We also leverage the existing literature–predominantly in human health, agriculture and eco-evolutionary biology–to identify approaches for readily characterizing SVs and consider how integrating these into the conservation genomics toolbox may transform the way we manage some of the world’s most threatened species.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

31 May 2021Submitted to Molecular Ecology
02 Jun 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Jun 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
21 Jun 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
28 Jul 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Jul 20211st Revision Received
28 Jul 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Aug 2021Editorial Decision: Accept