News from CEXS-UPF
A team led by Oregon Health & Science University has sequenced and annotated the genome of the only ape whose DNA had yet to be sequenced - the gibbon, an endangered small ape that inhabits the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. Tomàs Marqués-Bonet ICREA Research Professor at the UPF Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS) and leader of the Comparative Genomics lab at Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF) and the CNAG has led the Spanish contribution to the study.
The team's work, published in Sept. 11 edition of Nature, gives scientists new insight into the evolution of the gibbon genome and its extraordinary number of chromosomal rearrangements. Chromosomal rearrangements are structural changes in the DNA that are often problematic in other species - including causing cancer in humans - but seem to have happened in gibbons at a very high frequency. The genome sequencing work also provides new details on the family tree and evolutionary history of the gibbon lineage that has been a longstanding source of debate.
"This is the last ape to be sequenced and the end of an era in human comparative genomics," said Tomas Marques-Bonet. "Now we have tools -the genomes- for all the closest species to humans". "We hope that by learning more about the genome of these species we will also be able to implement better strategies for their conservation - as some of these species are critically endangered and about to disappear," said Lucia Carbone, fist author of the paper and assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine and an assistant scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center.
Carbone al. (including Jessica Hernandez, Belen Lorente-Galdos, Xavier Quilez, Marcos Fernández-Callejo, Marta Gut, Ivo Gut and Tomàs Marquès Bonet). "Gibbon genome and the fast karyotype evolution of small apes". Nature. 11/9/2014.