Biology Faculty Articles

Title

Molecular Genetic Divergence of Orang Utan (Pongo pygmaeus) Subspecies Based on Isozyme and Two-Dimensional Gel Electrophoresis

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1990

Publication Title

Journal of Heredity

ISSN

0022-1503

Volume

81

Issue/No.

5

First Page

375

Last Page

387

Abstract

The orang utan (Pongo pygmaeus), as currently recognized, includes two geographically separated subspecies: Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus, which resides on Borneo, and P. p. abelii, which inhabits Sumatra. At present, there is no known route of gene flow between the two populations except through captive individuals which have been released back into the wild over the last several decades. The two subspecies are differentiated by morphological and behavioral characters, and they can be distinguished by a subspecies specific pericentric chromosomal inversion. Nei-genetic distances were estimated between orang utan subspecies, gorilla, chimpanzee and humans using 44 isozyme loci and using 458 soluble fibroblast proteins which were resolved by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Phenetic analysis of both data sets supports the following conclusions: the orang utan subspecies distances are approximately 10 times closer to each other than they are to the African apes, and the orang utan subspecies are approximately as divergent as are the two chimpanzee species. Comparison of the genetic distances to genetic distance estimates done in the same laboratory under identical conditions reveals that the distance between Bornean vs. Sumatran orang utans is 5–10 times the distance measured between several pairs of subspecies including lions, cheetahs, and tigers. Near species level molecular genetic distances between orang utan subspecies would support the separate management of Bornean and Sumatran orang utans as evolutionary significant units (Ryder 1987). Evolutionary topologies were constructed from the distance data using both cladistic and phenetic methods. The majority of resulting trees affirmed previous molecular evolutionary studies that indicated that man and chimpanzee diverged from a common ancestor subsequent to the divergence of gorilla from the common ancestor.

Comments

© 1990 The American Genetic Association

Additional Comments

Department of Health and Human Services contract #: N01-CO-74102

ORCID ID

0000-0001-7353-8301

ResearcherID

N-1726-2015

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