• Question: Has anyone tried to sequence the genome of Scottish Wildcat before?

    Asked by susan-gassaway to Scottish Wildcat on 2 Dec 2017.
    • Photo: Scottish Wildcat

      Scottish Wildcat answered on 2 Dec 2017:

      Yes, several projects to sequence the Scottish Wildcat genome exist but none have yet produced a complete annotated genome sequence. It’s unlikely that this has been done privately, but not impossible. A popular place to publish genomic DNA sequences for anyone to use is NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). You can find published DNA sequences, and bio-project information, about the Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris) at NCBI:


      As you will see if you look there, many of the DNA sequences are of mitochondrial DNA, which is often used for taxonomic purposes in higher Eukoryotes (e.g. mammals) because the genomic DNA is extremely difficult to interpret and varies considerably between quite closely related species. However, it is precisely these differences that we are interested in because they are what makes Scottish Wildcats different from European Wildcats, which they are descended from, and feral domestic cats which are ‘diluting’ the genome of the Scottish Wildcat. The unique features of the Scottish Wildcat genome will be lost unless we do something to conserve it.

      Captive breeding is one way of conserving the Scottish Wildcat’s genome, and is an important part of our efforts to save the Scottish Wildcat from extinction. Selective breeding may, to some extent, allow us to reduce the effects of interbreeding between Scottish Wildcats and feral/hybrid domestic cats, but Scottish Wildcats belong in the wild and that is where they should be. Hopefully, having a high-quality, well annotated, DNA sequence of the Scottish Wildcat genome will help us to know which of our existing Scottish Wildcats are closest genetically to the native species that existed before interbreeding with domestic cats introduced by the Romans started to dilute the genome.