Genetic Mutations Endanger Eastern Lowland Gorilla Species

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The already threatened Eastern Lowland gorilla species lost genetic diversification and is now threatened by another issue – harmful genetic mutations. At least that is the conclusion reached by an international team of scientists sequenced 11, 100-year-old genomes from Eastern gorilla specimens.

Over the past 100 years, many species on Earth declined in numbers, and scientists already believed that the loss of genetic diversification is behind this threatening situation. Now, we have the confirmation that indeed genetic mutations are behind at least the decline of one of the most endangered species on the planet, the Eastern Lowland gorilla.

“We found that the genetic diversity in Grauer’s gorilla has declined significantly in just a few generations,” says Tom van der Valk, a Ph.D. student at Uppsala University in Sweden, cited by EurekAlert.

Eastern Lowland gorilla species lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and “have declined by 80 percent in recent decades due to poaching and habitat destruction,” EurekAlert reported.

Harmful Genetic Mutations Endanger Eastern Lowland Gorilla Even More Than Poaching And Habitat Destruction

The genome sequencing the scientists conducted revealed that increased inbreeding led to the loss of genetic diversification, meaning that Eastern Lowland gorilla species in now endangered even more due to the harmful genetic mutations they developed.

“This recent increase in harmful mutations really emphasizes the need to reverse the ongoing population decline in Grauer’s gorillas,” explained Love Dalan from the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

“Our study highlights that historical museum specimens constitute a unique resource for monitoring recent changes in the genetic status of endangered species,” added Katerina Guschanski from the Uppsala University.

In conclusion, Eastern Lowland gorilla, a species already threatened by poaching and habitat destruction, is now even more endangered because of the harmful genetic mutations the specimens developed due to increasing interbreeding, according to a new study.

Vadim Ioan Caraiman

Vadim is a passionate writer on various topics but especially on stuff related to health, technology, and science. Therefore, for Great Lakes Ledger, Vadim will cover health and Sci&Tech news.