Some of the mutations may explain why some Grauer gorillas have fusion digits. There were changes in the genes associated with the development of the fingers and toes. Researchers warn that other species may have a similar fate. ( Amy Porter | International Gorilla Diana Fossey Foundation )
Greyer's number of endangered gorillas has declined significantly over the past few decades, resulting in a loss of genetic diversity, which now threatens the survival of the species.
Population reduction led to inbreeding
In a new study published in the journal Current Biology On Thursday, Love Dalen of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and colleagues sequenced the genomes of several gorilla samples collected a century ago.
They then compared the results with the lively eastern gorillas, also known as the Grauer gorillas, who live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The results showed that grauer gorillas had accumulated harmful mutations, since the genetic diversity of the species was significantly reduced in just a few generations.
Over the past few decades, the Grauer gorilla population has declined by 80 percent due to poaching and habitat loss.
The reduction in numbers has led to an increase in the number of cases of inbreeding, as relatives are more likely to mate with a smaller population. This in turn led to a loss of genetic diversity and harmful mutations.
Dalen and his colleagues identified several potentially harmful mutations, the frequency of which has increased over the past four to five generations of the Gorilla Grauer.
Some of these have been found in genes that affect male fertility and disease resistance. These changes leave the species less adaptable to new diseases and changing environments.
The researchers also identified mutations that lead to loss of function in the genes associated with the development of fingers and toes, which may explain why some gorillas of Grauer have merged numbers.
Dalen and his colleagues said that the results underscore the need to address the problem of a sharp decline in the number of the Gorilla Grauer. Today there are fewer than 4,000 species, and the Grauer gorilla is currently listed as endangered.
“This recent increase in the number of harmful mutations really underlines the need to reverse the reduction in the number of Gorwell gorillas,” said Dalen.
Other species are also at risk.
The researchers also warned that there may be other species that may be affected by the same fate as a result of a sharp fall in populations.
“Many species have experienced a serious decline in the population over the past centuries, and therefore they may face the same genomic consequences that were described here for the Grauer gorillas. In species with a shorter generation time, such consequences may be even more serious due to faster genome changes, ”write the researchers in their study.
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