Major histocompatibility complex class I diversity in a West African chimpanzee population: implications for HIV research
Hypotheses about chimpanzee social behavior, phylogeography, and evolution were evaluated by noninvasive genotyping of free-ranging individuals from 20 African sites. Degrees of relatedness among individuals in one community were inferred from allele-sharing at eight nuclear simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci. Males are related on the order of half-siblings, and homozygosity is significantly increased at several SSR loci compared to Hardy-Weinberg expectations. These data support the kin-selection hypothesis for the evolution of cooperation among males. Sequence variation patterns at two mitochondrial loci indicate historically high long-distance gene flow and clarify the relationships among three allopatric subspecies. The unexpectedly large genetic distance between the western subspecies, Pan troglodytes verus, and the other two subspecies suggests a divergence time of about 1.58 million years. This result, if confirmed at nuclear loci and supported by eco-behavioral data, implies that P. t. verus should be elevated to full species rank.