We analysed over 8 million base pairs of bacterial artificial chromosome-based sequence alignments of four Old World monkeys and the human genome. Our findings are as follows. (i) Genomic divergences among several Old World monkeys mirror those between well-studied hominoids. (ii) The X-chromosome evolves slower than autosomes, in accord with ‘male-driven evolution’. However, the degree of male mutation bias is lower in Old World monkeys than in hominoids. (iii) Evolutionary rates vary significantly between lineages. The baboon branch shows a particularly slow molecular evolution. Thus, lineage-specific evolutionary rate variation is a common theme of primate genome evolution. (iv) In contrast to the overall pattern, mutations originating from DNA methylation exhibit little variation between lineages. Our study illustrates the potential of primates as a model system to investigate genome evolution, in particular to elucidate molecular mechanisms of substitution rate variation.
Keywords: Old World monkeys, substitution rates, male mutation bias, comparative genomics