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Genome Sequencing Mountain Gorillas Reveals The Significance Of Inbreeding

Scientists have sequenced whole genomes from mountain gorillas, our genetic cousins, for the first time in a massive boost to conservation efforts for the endangered primates. It will give scientists a new insight into the impact of population decline of mountain gorillas over the last couple of decades.

Now, scientists will be able to compare the genome to other gorillas for the first time. Despite all the efforts done so far, there are less than 900 left in the wild. The research reveals a striking loss in genetic diversity but also finds more to be optimistic about than expected, according to The Conversation.

Gorillas are classified into two species: Gorilla gorilla in the West Africa and Gorilla beringei in the eastern part of the Central Africa. Mountain gorillas are subspecies of the eastern gorilla species and their habitat ranges to higher altitudes. This affected their diet and physiology so they have thicker and longer fur enabling them to survive the colder temperatures and wetter and mistier environment.

Analysis of genome data revealed that mountain gorillas have already experienced dramatic collapse in numbers during the last century and that mountain gorillas have survived in small numbers for thousands of years. Using recently-developed methods, researchers were able to determine how the size of the population has changed over the past million years.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Yali Xue” author_title=”First author from the Sanger Institute”]

We worried that the dramatic decline in the 1980s would be catastrophic for mountain gorillas in the long term, but our genetic analyses suggest that gorillas have been coping with small population sizes for thousands of years.


However there is hope for mountain gorillas: many of the most harmful mutations are less common in mountain gorillas than in other gorilla subspecies, and appear to have been purged. These mutations disrupt the operation of a gene by terminating a protein it produces.

Severely harmful mutations can be reduced as a result of inbreeding. It will allow the gorillas to purge the mutation completely from their genomes through several generations of inbreeding.

Inbreeding in humans can possibly cause several physical and mental complications and is not recommended. Immortal News covered a story about a father and daughter’s plans to get married in New Jersey.

What are your thoughts on inbreeding in general?

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