common marmoset genome
July 22, 2014

Marmoset Genome Sequence Sheds Light On Primate Biology And Evolution

Glenna Picton, Baylor College of Medicine

A team of scientists from around the world led by Baylor College of Medicine and Washington University in St. Louis has completed the genome sequence of the common marmoset – the first sequence of a New World Monkey – providing new information about the marmoset's unique rapid reproductive system, physiology and growth, shedding new light on primate biology and evolution.

The team published the work today in the journal Nature Genetics.

"We study primate genomes to get a better understanding of the biology of the species that are most closely related to humans," said Dr. Jeffrey Rogers, associate professor in the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor and a lead author on the report. "The previous sequences of the great apes and macaques, which are very closely related to humans on the primate evolutionary tree, have provided remarkable new information about the evolutionary origins of the human genome and the processes involved."

With the sequence of the marmoset, the team revealed for the first time the genome of a non-human primate in the New World monkeys, which represents a separate branch in the primate evolutionary tree that is more distant from humans than those whose genomes have been studied in detail before. The sequence allows researchers to broaden their ability to study the human genome and its history as revealed by comparison with other primates.

The sequencing was conducted jointly by Baylor and Washington University and led by Dr. Kim Worley, professor in the Human Genome Sequencing Center, and Rogers at Baylor, and Drs. Richard K. Wilson, director, and Wesley Warren of The Genome Institute at Washington University, in collaboration with Dr. Suzette Tardif of The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and the Southwest National Primate Research Center.

"Each new non-human primate genome adds to a deeper understanding of human biology," said Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor and a principal investigator of the study.

Additional collaborators included researchers from Bari University in Italy; Genome Institute of Singapore; Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge; Vertebrate Genomics; European Bioinformatics Institute; Wellcome Trust Genome Campus; Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia; Wisconsin Primate Center; Indiana University; Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland; University of Washington in Seattle; University of Geneva Medical School in Switzerland; University of Houston; University of Utah; University of Oviedo in Spain ; Wayne State University and Imperial College London in South Kensington.

Funding for this work was provided by the National Human Genome Research Institute (U54 HG003273, U54 HG003079) with additional support from the National Institutes of Health (R01-DK077639, R01-GM59290, HG002385, P51-OD011133; National Science Foundation (NSF BCS- 0751508); VEGA grant agency; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; the Cullen Foundation; European Research Council (260372) and Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion Spain (BFU2011-28549); and Spanish the National Institute of Bioinformatics.

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