Susie the gorilla happens to share certain genome patterns with her cousins, the humans, and this is something that has scientists all shook up.
There is a female gorilla in the Columbus Zoo named Susie that is lending scientists valuable clues into the common genome sequences between gorillas and human beings. Gorillas are indeed one of our closest cousins on the genetic primate family tree.
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A revised gorilla genome based on the latest techniques of genetic engineering was presented before the public on Thursday. It was taken from Susie who is a prepubescent gorilla. The missing links in a similar gorilla genome sequence laid out in 2012 were found thanks to Susie’s gene mapping.
The novel trip down evolutionary lane shows us that gorillas and human beings have far more in common (gene-wise) than was thought of previously. The only differences that exist are equal to a bifurcation of merely 1.6%. The only other species of apes that bear an even closer likeness to humans are chimps and bonobos.
There was a genetic separation at the level of the sexual systems and biological immunity apparatus. Also skin sensitivity as well as the five senses differed. Other differentiating markers included the production of keratin which is used in the making of skin, hair and nails. The homeostasis of the hormone insulin was slightly different as well. The study was published in the journal Science.
This research may lay the basis for further inquiries into the human genome. How human beings are cognizant of things and their linguistic skills along with their behavioral/neurochemical ailments may get a fill-up via this comparison. By referring back and forth between human and gorilla genome sequencing, a lot can be learned about the essential differences that exist.
"Our results demonstrate the utility of long-read sequence technology to generate high-quality working draft genomes of complex vertebrate genomes without guidance from preexisting reference genomes," the authors report in the paper published in the journal Science.
"The genome assembly that results from using the long-read data provides a more complete picture of gene content, structural variation and repeat biology, as well as allows us to refine population genetic and evolutionary inferences."
Among the other apes that also had their genetic makeup studied were orangutans. Gorillas and human beings bifurcated as regards their family trees some 12 to 8.5 million years ago.
Gorillas are typically found in Central Africa where the lowlands and lush green tropical rainforests provide a suitable environment for their kind. A mature gorilla weighs as much as 440 pounds. It is a strong beast. Being the largest of primates, gorillas belong to the same group among which may be included lemurs, monkeys, apes and human beings.
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Jonas Korlach, Chief Scientific Officer of Pacific Biosciences, commented: "We are delighted by the authors' suggestion that our approach provides a routine way to assemble complex genomes without relying on reference genomes, bringing high-quality de novo mammalian assemblies within the reach of individual labs. This paper also demonstrates the importance of true long reads over scaffolding approaches for generating highly contiguous genomes without gaps, which is necessary for understanding gene content, population genetic diversity, ancestral evolution, and species biology."