• Question: Hi, how come, when you mentioned at the bottom, "We also work on transposons in primates..." that you only work on 'monkeys'? Does this experiment not work on other types of animals?

    Asked by to Richard on 18 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Richard Badge

      Richard Badge answered on 18 Jun 2011:

      In our research we are interested in how jumping genes are different between human and chimpanzees (are our closest living relative). Chimpanzees and humans are, we think, both descended from an ape-like creature that lived 6-8 million years ago. That ape-like ancestor passed all the same jumping genes to the ancestors of chimpanzee and humans so any changes in the numbers and positions of jumping genes between humans and chimpanzeez must have happened since that time. This gives us a way to work to how fast these changes happen.

      The jumping genes that we study are found in all mammals, and similar types of genes are even found in very simple organisms that evolved 100s of millions of year ago (like yeasts). So we could do our experiments in any animals, human and chimpanzees are the most intersting right now.

      We do some work in mice because they have some jumping genes that are very active – in once case quite a lot of the natural mutations cound by scientist in mice are caused my jumping genes and much more frequently in humans. We do not know why this is so again we do research to find out how fast these changes happen.