Owl Monkey

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washington; isb; Animals; Phylogeny; Aotus trivirgatus; Aotidae; Sequence Analysis, DNA; Alu Elements


Owl monkeys (genus Aotus), or "night monkeys" are platyrrhine primates in the Aotidae family. Early taxonomy only recognized one species, Aotus trivirgatus, until 1983, when Hershkovitz proposed nine unique species designations, classified into red-necked and gray-necked species groups based predominately on pelage coloration. Recent studies questioned this conventional separation of the genus and proposed designations based on the geographical location of wild populations. Alu retrotransposons are a class of mobile element insertion (MEI) widely used to study primate phylogenetics. A scaffold-level genome assembly for one Aotus species, Aotus nancymaae [Anan_2.0], facilitated large-scale ascertainment of nearly 2000 young lineage-specific Alu insertions. This study provides candidate oligonucleotides for locus-specific PCR assays for over 1350 of these elements. For 314 Alu elements across four taxa with multiple specimens, PCR analyses identified 159 insertion polymorphisms, including 21 grouping A. nancymaae and Aotus azarae (red-necked species) as sister taxa, with Aotus vociferans and A. trivirgatus (gray-necked) being more basal. DNA sequencing identified five novel Alu elements from three different taxa. The Alu datasets reported in this study will assist in species identification and provide a valuable resource for Aotus phylogenetics, population genetics and conservation strategies when applied to wild populations.


Institute for Systems Biology