Gorilla Genome Sequence Provides New Insight!
On March 7 2012, the article ‘Insights into hominid evolution from the gorilla genome sequence’ was published in the journal Nature, documenting the analysis of the first genome sequence of a gorilla (Scally et al 2012). The project was led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England. The DNA sample was from a western-lowland gorilla, Gorilla gorilla gorilla, named Kamilah (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute 2012). The team searched over 11,000 genes (Gorilla genome sequenced 2012), and compared them with the genome sequences of the rest of the Homini, which includes humans, which were completed in 2003, chimpanzees, from 2005, and orang-utans, sequenced in 2011 (Smith, A 2012).
(Scally et al, 2012)
Figure 2: A Western lowland gorilla mother and baby.
Other similarities may prove to be of great medical use. Genes involved with dementia and heart failure are both found in gorilla DNA. Mutations of these genes in humans mean disease, but in gorillas these mutated genes are the standard state (Anderson 2012). Further research into why the mutations don’t affect gorillas could provide a cure for these diseases.
The recent discovery of the gorilla genome provides further evidence of our ancestry, how and why we have evolved, along with the potential for new medical discoveries. The desired next steps of the project would be to gain full behaviour and physiology data and sequence the genomes of all the gorilla sub species, especially mountain gorillas, a sub-species soon to being extinct (Anderson 2012). The research team hope the article shows that it is essential we protect the gorilla species, not just for diversity and their beauty but for further learning and understanding of our own race (Noonan 2012).
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