eCite Digital Repository

Rapid evolutionary response to a transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils


Epstein, B and Jones, M and Hamede, R and Hendricks, S and McCallum, H and Murchison, EP and Schonfeld, B and Wiench, C and Hohenlohe, P and Storfer, A, Rapid evolutionary response to a transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils, Nature Communications, 7 Article 12684. ISSN 2041-1723 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/ncomms12684


Although cancer rarely acts as an infectious disease, a recently emerged transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) is virtually 100% fatal. Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has swept across nearly the entire species' range, resulting in localized declines exceeding 90% and an overall species decline of more than 80% in less than 20 years. Despite epidemiological models that predict extinction, populations in long-diseased sites persist. Here we report rare genomic evidence of a rapid, parallel evolutionary response to strong selection imposed by a wildlife disease. We identify two genomic regions that contain genes related to immune function or cancer risk in humans that exhibit concordant signatures of selection across three populations. DFTD spreads between hosts by suppressing and evading the immune system, and our results suggest that hosts are evolving immune-modulated resistance that could aid in species persistence in the face of this devastating disease.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:evolution, transmissible cancer, genome, Tasmanian devil
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Host-parasite interactions
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Jones, M (Professor Menna Jones)
UTAS Author:Hamede, R (Dr Rodrigo Hamede Ross)
UTAS Author:Schonfeld, B (Dr Barbara Schonfeld)
ID Code:113704
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:95
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2017-01-16
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:143 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page