Thursday, January 27, 2011

The orangutan genome

Nature published the orangutan genome this week from Locke et al. Interesting points:
  • There's a polymorphic neocentromere on chromosome 12. A polymorphism appears in some members of a species but not in others, and a centromere is a very important part of a chromosome that is required for proper cell division. A neocentromere is a novel centromere. So a polymorphic neocentromere means that some orangs have a centromere in one spot on chromosome 12 and some have their chromosome 12 centromere in another location. I think that's important because I've long argued that genomes are much more fluid and adaptable than creationists are willing to give them credit for. So even if your a species-fixist creationist (or something very close), here's an example of a species with a pretty significant polymorphism in chromosome position.
  • One other interesting point is a lack of recent alu insertions. Alus are transposable elements found only in primate genomes, and are especially prolific in the human and chimp genomes. Compared to those two genomes, the orang genome has a dearth of recent alu insertions.

And that's that. Now that it's available, I'm going to toss it into the mix with the other primate genomes for my little project "How similar are human and primate genomes REALLY?" That'll be fun.

Locke et al. 2011. Comparative and demographic analysis of orang-utan genomes. Nature 469:529–533.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.