Resolution of the African hominoid trichotomy by use of a mitochondrial gene sequence

Maryellen Ruvolo, Todd R. Disotell, Marc W. Allard, Wesley M. Brown, Rodney L. Honeycutt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Mitochondrial DNA sequences encoding the cytochrome oxidase subunit II gene have been determined for five primate species, siamang (Hylobates syndactylus), lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), crab-eating macaque (Macaco fascicularis), and green monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops), and compared with published sequences of other primate and nonprimate species. Comparisons of cytochrome oxidase subunit II gene sequences provide clear-cut evidence from the mitochondrial genome for the separation of the African ape trichotomy into two evolutionary lineages, one leading to gorillas and the other to humans and chimpanzees. Several different tree-building methods support this same phylogenetic tree topology. The comparisons also yield trees in which a substantial length separates the divergence point of gorillas from that of humans and chimpanzees, suggesting that the lineage most immediately ancestral to humans and chimpanzees may have been in existence for a relatively long time.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1570-1574
    Number of pages5
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - 1991


    • Cytochrome oxidase subunit II gene
    • Hominoid phylogeny
    • Mitochondrial DNA
    • Molecular anthropology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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