An international research team has unveiled the complete genome sequence of the common marmoset - a small monkey found in South America - publishing their work in the journal Nature Genetics. It’s the first genomes from a so-called New World monkey, which is further away in evolutionary terms than primates such as gorillas, chimps and humans, helping to shed light on primate evolution and biology.
One of the most interesting aspects of marmosets is that they tend to consistently give birth to twins, unlike humans and other primates. The scientists discovered that a gene called WFIKKN1 seems to be playing an important role in twinning, and might help to explain multiple pregnancies in humans. The team also discovered intriguing differences in growth hormone genes, which may explain their small body size, as well as a number of interesting microRNAs - small molecules that help to control gene activity.
The researchers hope that the new genome sequence will open up new research avenues, particularly related to reproduction, which could shed light on human health and disease.