Application of the geographic population structure (GPS) algorithm for biogeographical analyses of wild and captive gorillas

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BMC Bioinformatics


Background: The utilization of high resolution genome data has important implications for the phylogeographical evaluation of non-human species. Biogeographical analyses can yield detailed understanding of their population biology and facilitate the geo-localization of individuals to promote their efficacious management, particularly when bred in captivity. The Geographic Population Structure (GPS) algorithm is an admixture based tool for inference of biogeographical affinities and has been employed for the geo-localization of various human populations worldwide. Here, we applied the GPS tool for biogeographical analyses and localization of the ancestral origins of wild and captive gorilla genomes, of unknown geographic source, available in the Great Ape Genome Project (GAGP), employing Gorillas with known ancestral origin as the reference data. Results: Our findings suggest that GPS was successful in recapitulating the population history and estimating the geographic origins of all gorilla genomes queried and localized the wild gorillas with unknown geographical origin < 150 km of National Parks/Wildlife Reserves within the political boundaries of countries, considered as prominent modern-day abode for gorillas in the wild. Further, the GPS localization of most captive-born gorillas was congruent with their previously presumed ancestral homes. Conclusions: Currently there is limited knowledge of the ancestral origins of most North American captive gorillas, and our study highlights the usefulness of GPS for inferring ancestry of captive gorillas. Determination of the native geographical source of captive gorillas can provide valuable information to guide breeding programs and ensure their appropriate management at the population level. Finally, our findings shine light on the broader applicability of GPS for protecting the genetic integrity of other endangered non-human species, where controlled breeding is a vital component of their conservation.



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