Scientists take gorilla genome to next level

Image: Susie the gorilla

Researchers sequenced and assembled an updated gorilla genome using a DNA sample from a gorilla named Susie. (Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo)

A team led by University of Washington researchers has taken a second turn at sequencing the gorilla genome, putting together puzzle pieces that didn’t match up the first time around.

The results are likely to bring about revisions in the evolutionary tale of the western lowland gorilla, and where it fits in the primate family tree that includes us humans.

“I believe there is far more genetic variation than we had previously thought. The first step is finding it,” UW geneticist Evan Eichler, the senior author of a research paper on the project published by the journal Science, said in a news release.

One of the co-authors from UW, Christopher Hill, told GeekWire in an email that the new research is part of an effort to create a comprehensive catalog of the genetic differences between humans and other great apes.

“The differences between species may aid researchers in identifying regions of the human genome that are associated with cognition, behavior and neurological diseases,” Hill said. “Having complete and accurate reference genomes to compare allows researchers to uncover these differences.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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