An Annotated Draft Genome of the Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus)

João P. Marques, Fernando A. Seixas, Liliana Farelo, Colin M. Callahan, Jeffrey M. Good, W. Ian Montgomery, Neil Reid, Paulo C. Alves, Pierre Boursot, José Melo-Ferreira

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8 Scopus citations


Hares (genus Lepus) provide clear examples of repeated and often massive introgressive hybridization and striking local adaptations. Genomic studies on this group have so far relied on comparisons to the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) reference genome. Here, we report the first de novo draft reference genome for a hare species, the mountain hare (Lepus timidus), and evaluate the efficacy of whole-genome re-sequencing analyses using the new reference versus using the rabbit reference genome. The genome was assembled using the ALLPATHS-LG protocol with a combination of overlapping pair and mate-pair Illumina sequencing (77x coverage). The assembly contained 32,294 scaffolds with a total length of 2.7 Gb and a scaffold N50 of 3.4 Mb. Re-scaffolding based on the rabbit reference reduced the total number of scaffolds to 4,205 with a scaffold N50 of 194 Mb. A correspondence was found between 22 of these hare scaffolds and the rabbit chromosomes, based on gene content and direct alignment. We annotated 24,578 protein coding genes by combining ab-initio predictions, homology search, and transcriptome data, of which 683 were solely derived from hare-specific transcriptome data. The hare reference genome is therefore a new resource to discover and investigate hare-specific variation. Similar estimates of heterozygosity and inferred demographic history profiles were obtained when mapping hare whole-genome re-sequencing data to the new hare draft genome or to alternative references based on the rabbit genome. Our results validate previous reference-based strategies and suggest that the chromosome-scale hare draft genome should enable chromosome-wide analyses and genome scans on hares.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3656-3662
Number of pages7
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 16 2019


  • Lagomorpha
  • Leporids
  • annotation
  • de novo assembly
  • hares
  • whole-genome sequencing


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