Research Article

A Fine-Scale Chimpanzee Genetic Map from Population Sequencing

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Science  13 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6078, pp. 193-198
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216872

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Going Ape Over Genetic Maps

Recombination is an important process in generating diversity and producing selectively advantageous genetic combinations. Thus, changes in recombination hotspots may influence speciation. To investigate the variation in recombination processes in humans and their closest existing relatives, Auton et al. (p. 193, published online 15 March) prepared a fine-scale genetic map of the Western chimpanzee and compared it with that of humans. While rates of recombination are comparable between humans and chimpanzees, the locations and genetic motifs associated with recombination differ between the species.


To study the evolution of recombination rates in apes, we developed methodology to construct a fine-scale genetic map from high-throughput sequence data from 10 Western chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus. Compared to the human genetic map, broad-scale recombination rates tend to be conserved, but with exceptions, particularly in regions of chromosomal rearrangements and around the site of ancestral fusion in human chromosome 2. At fine scales, chimpanzee recombination is dominated by hotspots, which show no overlap with those of humans even though rates are similarly elevated around CpG islands and decreased within genes. The hotspot-specifying protein PRDM9 shows extensive variation among Western chimpanzees, and there is little evidence that any sequence motifs are enriched in hotspots. The contrasting locations of hotspots provide a natural experiment, which demonstrates the impact of recombination on base composition.

  • These authors jointly supervised the project.

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