Gorillas are humans’ closest living relatives after chimpanzees, and are of comparable importance for the study of human origins and evolution. Here we present the assembly and analysis of a genome sequence for the western lowland gorilla, and compare the whole genomes of all extant great ape genera. We propose a synthesis of genetic and fossil evidence consistent with placing the human–chimpanzee and human–chimpanzee–gorilla speciation events at approximately 6 and 10 million years ago. In 30% of the genome, gorilla is closer to human or chimpanzee than the latter are to each other; this is rarer around coding genes, indicating pervasive selection throughout great ape evolution, and has functional consequences in gene expression. A comparison of protein coding genes reveals approximately 500 genes showing accelerated evolution on each of the gorilla, human and chimpanzee lineages, and evidence for parallel acceleration, particularly of genes involved in hearing. We also compare the western and eastern gorilla species, estimating an average sequence divergence time 1.75 million years ago, but with evidence for more recent genetic exchange and a population bottleneck in the eastern species. The use of the genome sequence in these and future analyses will promote a deeper understanding of great ape biology and evolution.
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- Supplementary Information (12.2M)
This file contains Supplementary Information, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Figures and Supplementary Tables. Please note some of the tables are in separate files - see contents list for details.
- Supplementary Tables (380K)
This file contains tables ST3.1 (lincRNA annotation), ST8.2-ST8.4, ST8.7 (Protein evolution), ST8.8, ST8.9 (Stop-SNP and disease allele genes) and ST11.1 (Expression-CTCF-changes).
- Supplementary Tables (852K)
This file contains table ST12.2 (Gorilla species amino-acid differences).
- Supplementary Tables (6M)
This file contains table ST8.1:Ensembl protein primate orthology status.
- Supplementary Tables (8.8M)
This file contains table ST8.5: Complete codon model LRT results.
- Supplementary Tables (698K)
This file contains table ST4.3: CoalHMM results (genome wide).
- Supplementary Tables (40K)
This file contains table ST4.5:CoalHMM results on simulated data.