Whole-genome sequencing of the snub-nosed monkey provides insights into folivory and evolutionary history

Xuming Zhou, Boshi Wang, Qi Pan, Jinbo Zhang, Sudhir Kumar, Xiaoqing Sun, Zhijin Liu, Huijuan Pan, Yu Lin, Guangjian Liu, Wei Zhan, Mangzhou Li, Baoping Ren, Xingyong Ma, Hang Ruan, Chen Cheng, Dawei Wang, Fanglei Shi, Yuanyuan Hui, Yujing TaoChenglin Zhang, Pingfen Zhu, Zuofu Xiang, Wenkai Jiang, Jiang Chang, Hailong Wang, Zhisheng Cao, Zhi Jiang, Baoguo Li, Guang Yang, Christian Roos, Paul A. Garber, Michael W. Bruford, Ruiqiang Li, Ming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Colobines are a unique group of Old World monkeys that principally eat leaves and seeds rather than fruits and insects. We report the sequencing at 146× coverage, de novo assembly and analyses of the genome of a male golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) and resequencing at 30× coverage of three related species (Rhinopithecus bieti, Rhinopithecus brelichi and Rhinopithecus strykeri). Comparative analyses showed that Asian colobines have an enhanced ability to derive energy from fatty acids and to degrade xenobiotics. We found evidence for functional evolution in the colobine RNASE1 gene, encoding a key secretory RNase that digests the high concentrations of bacterial RNA derived from symbiotic microflora. Demographic reconstructions indicated that the profile of ancient effective population sizes for R. roxellana more closely resembles that of giant panda rather than its congeners. These findings offer new insights into the dietary adaptations and evolutionary history of colobine primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1303-1310
Number of pages8
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 11 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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