Thursday, November 3, 2016
Genome Sequencing of Chimpanzees and Bonobos reveals Unexpected Ancient History
Chimpanzees and bonobos, humans closest relatives, are thought by scientists to have an ancient history of gene mixing, showing parallels with Neanderthal mixing in human ancestry. Studies have shown that 1% of chimpanzee gnomons are derived from bonobos. It also showed that genomics can help determine individual chimpanzees country of origin, which can contribute to chimpanzee conservation. Both species are endangered and are supposedly fully protected by law, however many chimpanzees are captured and held illegally.
Researchers analyzed the genome sequences for 75 chimpanzees and bonobos from 10 african countries as well as 40 wild-born chimpanzees from unknown locations. The results proved that the chimpanzees genome sequence depended on their geographic location.
Chimpanzees and bonobos derived from a common ancestor between 1.5 and 2 million years ago. Since the species are separated by the Congo river now, it was thought that gene flow between the species was impossible. The study found that some individuals would have had to cross the river because there were two gene flows events between chimpanzee and bonobos.
The study also included results that showed that there were two phases of secondary contact. One occurred 200-500 thousand years ago and the other occurred 150 thousand years ago.These events are believed to have happened during the last 100 thousand years of human evolution.
This is the first study to be conducted that provides finding in gene flow events in species closest to humans.
This is a riveting article that humans deeper into their ancestry. Sequencing the genomes can explain the specific chimpanzee's geographic origin. This is important because it can lead to more knowledge pertaining to how they can be conserved since they need more then laws to be protected. It's astonishing to think of the impact gene flow can have. This one in particular influenced the genes of both chimpanzees and humans. Something that scientists thought to be impossible actually wasn't so impossible after all.