A team led by Oregon Health & Science University researcher Lucia Carbone, Ph.D., 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. Gibbons, together with the other apes — orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos — are the closest relatives to humans.
Like the DNA sequencing of other apes and non-human primates, the team’s work gives science new insight into the human genome. Unraveling primate genomes is vitally important as researchers try to understand the genetic factors in human health and disease. Their work also gives scientists new insight into the evolution of the gibbon genome and its extraordinary number of chromosomal rearrangements. These rearrangements are often problematic in other species, including causing cancer in humans.
The team’s work has been published in the September 11 edition of Nature.