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PLoS One. 2009;4(3):e4999. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004999. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

A chromosomal inversion unique to the northern white-cheeked gibbon.

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  • 1BACPAC Resources, Children's Hospital of Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California, United States of America. lcarbone@chori.org

Abstract

The gibbon family belongs to the superfamily Hominoidea and includes 15 species divided into four genera. Each genus possesses a distinct karyotype with chromosome numbers varying from 38 to 52. This diversity is the result of numerous chromosomal changes that have accumulated during the evolution of the gibbon lineage, a quite unique feature in comparison with other hominoids and most of the other primates. Some gibbon species and subspecies rank among the most endangered primates in the world. Breeding programs can be extremely challenging and hybridization plays an important role within the factors responsible for the decline of captive gibbons. With less than 500 individuals left in the wild, the northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys leucogenys, NLE) is the most endangered primate in a successful captive breeding program. We present here the analysis of an inversion that we show being specific for the northern white-cheeked gibbon and can be used as one of the criteria to distinguish this subspecies from other gibbon taxa. The availability of the sequence spanning for one of the breakpoints of the inversion allows detecting it by a simple PCR test also on low quality DNA. Our results demonstrate the important role of genomics in providing tools for conservation efforts.

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