Chimp and Human Genome Compared and Other Interesting Evolution Stories

The chimp and human genomes are being compared in two articles that came out today.


The first is in Nature and is freely downloadable. Initial sequence of the chimpanzee
genome and comparison with the human genome
. Here is the abstract:

Here we present a draft genome sequence of the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Through comparison with the human genome, we have generated a largely complete catalogue of the genetic differences that have accumulated since the human and chimpanzee species diverged from our common ancestor, constituting approximately thirty-five million single-nucleotide changes, five million insertion/deletion events, and various chromosomal rearrangements. We use this catalogue to explore the magnitude and regional variation of mutational forces shaping these two genomes, and the strength of positive and negative selection acting on their genes. In particular, we find that the patterns of evolution in
human and chimpanzee protein-coding genes are highly correlated and dominated by the fixation of neutral and slightly deleterious alleles. We also use the chimpanzee genome as an outgroup to investigate human population genetics and identify signatures of selective sweeps in recent human evolution.

The second paper is (not downloadable without access – and if someone could send me this one I would appreciate it) Copy number variation and evolution in humans and chimpanzees. Here is the abstract:

Copy number variants (CNVs) underlie many aspects of human phenotypic diversity and provide the raw material for gene duplication and gene family expansion. However, our understanding of their evolutionary significance remains limited. We performed comparative genomic hybridization on a single human microarray platform to identify CNVs among the genomes of 30 humans and 30 chimpanzees as well as fixed copy number differences between species. We found that human and chimpanzee CNVs occur in orthologous genomic regions far more often than expected by chance and are strongly associated with the presence of highly homologous intrachromosomal segmental duplications. By adapting population genetic analyses for use with copy number data, we identified functional categories of genes that have likely evolved under purifying or positive selection for copy number changes. In particular, duplications and deletions of genes with inflammatory response and cell proliferation functions may have been fixed by positive selection and involved in the adaptive phenotypic differentiation of humans and chimpanzees.

An interesting evolution related paper (also open access) is in PNAS. Mean mass-specific metabolic rates are strikingly similar across life’s major domains: Evidence for life’s metabolic optimum. Here is the abstract:

A fundamental but unanswered biological question asks how much energy, on average, Earth’s different life forms spend per unit mass per unit time to remain alive. Here, using the largest database to date, for 3,006 species that includes most of the range of biological diversity
on the planet–from bacteria to elephants, and algae to sapling trees–we show that metabolism displays a striking degree of homeostasis across all of life. We demonstrate that, despite the enormous biochemical, physiological, and ecological differences between the surveyed species that vary over 1020-fold in body mass, mean metabolic rates of major taxonomic groups displayed at physiological rest converge on a narrow range from 0.3 to 9 W kg1. This 30-fold variation among life’s disparate forms represents a remarkably small range compared with the 4,000- to 65,000-fold difference between the mean metabolic rates of the smallest and largest organisms that would be observed if life as a whole conformed to universal quarterpower or third-power allometric scaling laws. The observed broad convergence on a narrow range of basal metabolic rates suggests that organismal designs that fit in this physiological window have been favored by natural selection across all of life’s major kingdoms, and that this range might therefore be considered as optimal for living matter as a whole.

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5 Responses

  1. Check your email!

  2. I do hope you’ll tell us all the juicy details about the second article, once you’ve read it!

  3. Where’s my goddamn Friday freakin’ primate. Or at least some interesting mammal. PZ at least gives us a cephalopod!

  4. Observation
    The difference between species lies not in how much their genetics differ, but in how their genetics differ.

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