The first Chinese Rhesus macaque genome

The Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is an Asian monkey that shares 93% of its DNA sequence with humans and, due to this similarity, is an important species for scientific study. Until now, work on the Rhesus macaque has largely focused on the Indian subspecies, but an article published in Genome Biology reports, for the first time, the genome sequence of a Chinese Rhesus macaque.

Rhesus macaqueIn the article, researchers from the BGI (China’s premier genomics institute) and the Kunming Institute of Zoology identify millions of DNA sequence variations between the Indian and Chinese Rhesus macaque genomes, including 5.5 million one letter variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. A website to enable browsing of these SNPs accompanies the article and provides a valuable new resource cataloging the differences between the two subspecies.

Our understanding of genomic diversity in the Rhesus macaque is also enhanced by a recent article published in BMC Genomics, which compares the genome sequences of three Indian Rhesus macaques, identifying 3 million SNPs. Together, the Genome Biology and BMC Genomics datasets represent a significant advance in primate genomics and will inform future research in fields ranging from human evolution to HIV virology.

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