This is Taegeuk. He is an Amur tiger who lives in South Korea and he is now one of two tigers whose complete genome has been sequenced.

Genome sequencing is one of the biggest things that can happen for an organism in the world of molecular genetics; every single nucleotide in the nuclear DNA of that organism is identified and put into sequence. The sequencing of all the A C T and G in an organism's genome allows us to know what proteins that nuclear DNA codes for, which in turns lets us start to figure out how differences in protein presence and absence account for the biodiversity of the world around us.

Prior to the sequencing of Taegeuk's DNA, only one member of the cat clade, Felidae, had been sequenced: an Abyssinian domestic cat named Cinnamon. With the publication of Taegeuk's DNA by an international (South Korea, China, USA, Russia, Namibia, South Africa, The Netherlands, Mongolia, Denmark, Saudi Arabia) team also comes the first DNA sequencing of African lion and snow leopard, along with sequencing of white Bengal and African lions.

Our data from tigers, lions and snow leopard can provide a rich and diverse genome resource that could be used in future studies of conservation and population genomics so that the genetic underpinnings of local adaptation and potential inbreeding and/or outbreeding in wild and captive populations can be illuminated and thereby help ensure the future survival of these majestic species.

Cho et al. 2013. The tiger genome and comparative analysis with lion and snow leopard genomes. Nature Communications 4:2433