Science  15 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6087, pp. 1366

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  1. Bonobo Genome Sequenced


    Completing the roster of genomes for great apes, researchers have sequenced the DNA of a bonobo. In Nature this week, the team reports that humans share about one-quarter of our genes with bonobos or with common chimpanzees, but not with both types of ape.

    When the team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, analyzed the genome of a bonobo named Ulindi from the Leipzig Zoo, they found that bonobos and chimpanzees are still highly similar, sharing 99.6% of their DNA, even though their lineages split apart in Africa about 1 million years ago. The ancestors of both bonobos and chimpanzees diverged from human ancestors 5 million to 7 million years ago. About 1.6% of humans' DNA is shared with bonobos, but not with chimpanzees—and about 1.7% of our DNA is shared with chimps, but not bonobos, the team found.

    The function of the DNA we share exclusively with bonobos is not known, but may be connected to our immune systems and may reveal how the ancestors of humans, bonobos, and chimps evolved different responses to infectious diseases.