Evolutionary and biomedical insights from a marmoset diploid genome assembly

Nature. 2021 Jun;594(7862):227-233. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03535-x. Epub 2021 Apr 28.


The accurate and complete assembly of both haplotype sequences of a diploid organism is essential to understanding the role of variation in genome functions, phenotypes and diseases1. Here, using a trio-binning approach, we present a high-quality, diploid reference genome, with both haplotypes assembled independently at the chromosome level, for the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), an primate model system that is widely used in biomedical research2,3. The full spectrum of heterozygosity between the two haplotypes involves 1.36% of the genome-much higher than the 0.13% indicated by the standard estimation based on single-nucleotide heterozygosity alone. The de novo mutation rate is 0.43 × 10-8 per site per generation, and the paternal inherited genome acquired twice as many mutations as the maternal. Our diploid assembly enabled us to discover a recent expansion of the sex-differentiation region and unique evolutionary changes in the marmoset Y chromosome. In addition, we identified many genes with signatures of positive selection that might have contributed to the evolution of Callithrix biological features. Brain-related genes were highly conserved between marmosets and humans, although several genes experienced lineage-specific copy number variations or diversifying selection, with implications for the use of marmosets as a model system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research
  • Callithrix / genetics*
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • Diploidy*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Genome / genetics*
  • Genomics / standards*
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • INDEL Mutation / genetics
  • Male
  • Reference Standards
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sex Differentiation / genetics
  • Y Chromosome / genetics