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Genome Sequence of an Australian Kangaroo, Macropus eugenii

  1. Janine E Deakin

Published Online: 15 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023980



How to Cite

Deakin, J. E. 2013. Genome Sequence of an Australian Kangaroo, Macropus eugenii. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2013


The tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) is a model marsupial species that has been intensively used for research into various aspects of marsupial biology. Recently, it became one of only three marsupial species to have its genome sequenced. Comparisons of genome sequence from all three marsupials with those of other vertebrates have made it possible to begin identifying marsupial-specific genome features. Our knowledge of the biology of the tammar wallaby has informed the interpretation of these unique features and provided insight into their evolution. Among these unique features are genes involved in the sophisticated marsupial lactation system and genes encoding for potent antimicrobial peptides. Comparisons of genome organisation have also provided insight into marsupial genome evolution.

Key Concepts:

  • Uncovering the genetic basis of unique marsupial features is now possible due to the availability of genome sequences for three marsupial species.

  • The tammar wallaby is a model species used for studies into marsupial biology, making it possible to link genomic features with the biological characteristics.

  • As the tammar wallaby genome was only lightly sequenced, other genomic resources such as transcriptome sequences and genome maps have enhanced the genome assembly.

  • A number of novel genes are associated with the complex marsupial lactation system and immunity.

  • Five novel genes have been identified on the marsupial Y chromosome.

  • The organisation of the tammar wallaby major histocompatibility complex is vastly different to that of any other species studied to date.

  • A decades old debate over chromosome number in the ancestral marsupial has been resolved by comparing genome organisation among the sequenced marsupials species and the outgroup species human and chicken.

  • The wallaby genome assembly in combination with other genomic resources are proving valuable for the discovery of marsupial-specific features.


  • marsupial;
  • genome evolution;
  • mammals;
  • comparative genomics;
  • lactation