DNA methylation age studies of humpback whales

Steve Horvath, Amin Haghani, Joseph A. Zoller, Zhe Fei, Martine Bérubé, Jooke Robbins

Onderzoeksoutput: VoordrukAcademic

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Several previous studies have described epigenetic clocks for whale and dolphin species. Here we present a novel and highly robust epigenetic clock for the humpback whale based on methylation levels measured using the Mammalian Methylation Array platform. Skin samples were obtained from 76 individuals that had been studied since their birth year and known to range in age from <1 to 39.5 years. The humpback whale clock provided a highly accurate estimate of chronological age (R=0.96, median error 2.2 years) according to a leave-one-out cross validation analysis. We applied this clock to an independent set of samples from humpback whales of unknown exact age but with sighting histories that were as long as or longer than the upper 20% of the available known-age range. Although there was a strong correlation with minimum age (R=0.89), the clock underestimated age in these older animals by a median error of at least 7.8 years. Finally, we applied the humpback clock to publicly available methylation data from beluga whales. In this data set from a different species, the humpback clock provided an age correlation of R=0.78. While a DNAm age estimator has previously been described for humpback whales, this is the first such clock shown to apply to another cetacean species as well. Our humpback whale clock built from well-studied population lends itself for understanding humpback populations that otherwise lack age data.

Originele taal-2English
UitgeverBioRxiv
Aantal pagina's22
DOI's
StatusSubmitted - 15-aug.-2022

Publicatie series

NaambioRxiv
UitgeverijCold Spring Harbor Labs Journals
ISSN van geprinte versie2692-8205

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