A new evolutionary history of primates

Mar 17, 2011

A robust new phylogenetic tree resolves many long-standing issues in primate taxonomy. The genomes of living primates harbor remarkable differences in diversity and provide an intriguing context for interpreting human evolution. The phylogenetic analysis was conducted by international researchers to determine the origin, evolution, patterns of speciation, and unique features in genome divergence among primate lineages. This evolutionary history will be published on March 17 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics.

The authors sequenced 54 gene regions from 186 species spanning the primate radiation. The analysis illustrates the importance of resolving complex, species-rich phylogenies using large-scale comparative genomic approach. Patterns of species and gene sequence evolution and adaptation relate not only to human genome organization and genetic disease sensitivity, but also to global emergence of zoonoses (human pathogens originating from non-human disease reservoirs), to mammalian comparative genomics, to primate taxonomy and to species conservation.

To date, available molecular genetic data applied to primate systematics has been informative, but limited in scope and constrained to just specific subsets of taxa. Now, a team of international researches from the US, Brazil, France and Germany, have provided a highly robust depiction of the divergence hierarchy, mode and tempo governing the extraordinarily divergent primate lineages. The findings illustrate events in from ancient to recent and clarify numerous taxonomic controversies. Ongoing speciation, reticulate evolution, ancient relic lineages, unequal rates of and disparate distributions of genetic insertions/deletions among the reconstructed primate lineages are uncovered.

The authors said: "Advances in human biomedicine, including those focused on changes in genes triggered or disrupted in development, resistance/susceptibility to infectious disease, cancers, and mechanisms of recombination and genome plasticity, can not be adequately interpreted in the absence of a precise evolutionary context or hierarchy. Resolution of the primate species phylogeny here provides a validated framework essential in the development, interpretation and discovery of the genetic underpinnings of human adaptation and disease."

Explore further: Evolution of snake courtship and combat behavior

More information: Perelman P, Johnson WE, Roos C, Seua´nez HN, Horvath JE, et al. (2011) A Molecular Phylogeny of Living Primates. PLoS Genet 7(3): e1001342. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001342

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New genome sequencing targets announced

Jul 24, 2006

The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute has announced several new sequencing targets, including the northern white-cheeked gibbon.

Most complete primate gene study reported

Jul 31, 2007

U.S. scientists have completed what's believed the most comprehensive assessment of gene copy number variations across human and non-human primate species.

Is the Hobbit's brain unfeasibly small?

Jan 27, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The commonly held assumption that as primates evolved, their brains always tended to get bigger has been challenged by a team of scientists at Cambridge and Durham. Their work helps solve ...

Recommended for you

World's first microbe 'zoo' opens in Amsterdam

4 hours ago

The world's first "interactive microbe zoo" opened in Amsterdam on Tuesday, shining new light on the tiny creatures that make up two-thirds of all living matter and are vital for our planet's future.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

frajo
5 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2011
Must have been a member of the Creationists' taxa who voted "1" for this article.
hush1
not rated yet May 01, 2011
A priceless contribution. Kudos to the countless, faceless number of contributing researchers/students of all ages.

An excerpt:

"One of the more intriguing unresolved questions is the origin of primates. Generally concordant, most molecular data suggest extant primates arose approximately 85 MYA from a common ancestor. However, the debate continues over the geographic locale most consistent with the existing fossil record [9], [10], [12], [16], [23], [26], [61]-[63]. A parsimonious interpretation of the present data would suggest an Asian origin as the ancient Asian Tarsiiformes and the strepsirrhine Lorisinae are most basal and the closest relatives of primates, Dermoptera and Scandentia, are also exclusive to Asia."

As with all scientific reference works, it pulls no punches.
The entire relevant field-related vocabularies are drawn upon to leave a determined reader with as concise a description and understanding needed for anyone dedicated to science.
Johannes414
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2011
And yet again the ever changing theory of evolution has to be adapted to fit those elusive and pesky facts.