Genomics Inform.  2019 Mar;17(1):e5. 10.5808/GI.2019.17.1.e5.

Blood transcriptome resources of chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarcticus) and gentoo (Pygoscelis papua) penguins from the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

  • 1Unit of Polar Genomics, Korea Polar Research Institute, Incheon 21990, Korea.
  • 2Department of Polar Life Science, Korea Polar Research Institute, Incheon 21990, Korea.
  • 3Department of Marine Science, College of Natural Sciences, Incheon National University, Incheon 22012, Korea.
  • 4Research Institute of Basic Sciences, Incheon National University, Incheon 22012, Korea.
  • 5Polar Sciences, University of Science & Technology, Daejeon 34113, Korea.


The chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarcticus) and gentoo (P. papua) penguins are distributed throughout Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. In this study, high-quality de novo assemblies of blood transcriptomes from these penguins were generated using the Illumina MiSeq platform. A total of 22.2 and 21.8 raw reads were obtained from chinstrap and gentoo penguins, respectively. These reads were assembled using the Oases assembly platform and resulted in 26,036 and 21,854 contigs with N50 values of 929 and 933 base pairs, respectively. Functional gene annotations through pathway analyses of the Gene Ontology, EuKaryotic Orthologous Groups, and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) databases were performed for each blood transcriptome, resulting in a similar compositional order between the two transcriptomes. Ortholog comparisons with previously published transcriptomes from the Adélie (P. adeliae) and emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri) penguins revealed that a high proportion of the four penguins' transcriptomes had significant sequence homology. Because blood and tissues of penguins have been used to monitor pollution in Antarctica, immune parameters in blood could be important indicators for understanding the health status of penguins and other Antarctic animals. In the blood transcriptomes, KEGG analyses detected many essential genes involved in the major innate immunity pathways, which are key metabolic pathways for maintaining homeostasis against exogenous infections or toxins. Blood transcriptome studies such as this may be useful for checking the immune and health status of penguins without sacrifice.


blood; chinstrap; gentoo; immunity; penguin; transcriptome

MeSH Terms

Base Pairing
Gene Ontology
Genes, Essential
Immunity, Innate
Metabolic Networks and Pathways
Molecular Sequence Annotation
Sequence Homology
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