Genetic structure of chimpanzee populations

PLoS Genet. 2007 Apr 20;3(4):e66. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0030066. Epub 2007 Mar 13.


Little is known about the history and population structure of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, in part because of an extremely poor fossil record. To address this, we report the largest genetic study of the chimpanzees to date, examining 310 microsatellites in 84 common chimpanzees and bonobos. We infer three common chimpanzee populations, which correspond to the previously defined labels of "western," "central," and "eastern," and find little evidence of gene flow between them. There is tentative evidence for structure within western chimpanzees, but we do not detect distinct additional populations. The data also provide historical insights, demonstrating that the western chimpanzee population diverged first, and that the eastern and central populations are more closely related in time.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chimera / genetics
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Inbreeding
  • Male
  • Pan paniscus / genetics
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Time Factors