Article open access publication

The sheep genome illuminates biology of the rumen and lipid metabolism

Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ISSN 0036-8075

Volume 344, 6188, 2014

DOI:10.1126/science.1252806, Dimensions: pub.1013773385, PMC: PMC4157056, PMID: 24904168,



  1. (1) Kunming Institute of Zoology, grid.419010.d
  2. (2) Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, grid.1016.6
  3. (3) North West Agriculture and Forestry University, grid.144022.1
  4. (4) Beijing Genomics Institute, grid.21155.32
  5. (5) University of Edinburgh, grid.4305.2
  6. (6) Utah State University, grid.53857.3c
  7. (7) Laboratoire de Génétique Cellulaire, grid.419081.5
  8. (8) Baylor College of Medicine, grid.39382.33
  9. (9) Institute of ATCG, Nei Mongol Bio-Information, Hohhot, China
  10. (10) Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, grid.411638.9
  11. (11) University of Otago, grid.29980.3a
  12. (12) AgResearch, grid.417738.e
  13. (13) Wellcome Sanger Institute, grid.10306.34
  14. (14) European Bioinformatics Institute, grid.225360.0
  15. (15) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  16. (16) Agricultural Research Service, grid.463419.d
  17. (17) Washington State University, grid.30064.31
  18. (18) Sichuan Agricultural University, grid.80510.3c
  19. (19) Lanzhou Institute of Husbandry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, grid.464362.1
  20. (20) Roslin Institute, grid.482685.5
  21. (21) University of New England, grid.1020.3
  22. (22) University of Sydney, grid.1013.3
  23. (23) King Abdulaziz University, grid.412125.1
  24. (24) Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau 999078, China


Sheep (Ovis aries) are a major source of meat, milk, and fiber in the form of wool and represent a distinct class of animals that have a specialized digestive organ, the rumen, that carries out the initial digestion of plant material. We have developed and analyzed a high-quality reference sheep genome and transcriptomes from 40 different tissues. We identified highly expressed genes encoding keratin cross-linking proteins associated with rumen evolution. We also identified genes involved in lipid metabolism that had been amplified and/or had altered tissue expression patterns. This may be in response to changes in the barrier lipids of the skin, an interaction between lipid metabolism and wool synthesis, and an increased role of volatile fatty acids in ruminants compared with nonruminant animals.


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Times Cited: 232

Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 26.52

Relative Citation ratio (RCR): 9.46

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Green, Accepted