Elaine Elizabeth Guevara

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Yale U.

Grant number

Gr. 9369

Approve Date

October 7, 2016

Project Title

Gomez Guevara, Elaine E., Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Genomics of Longevity in a Wild Primate,' supervised by Dr. David Watts

ELAINE GUEVARA, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Genomics of Longevity in a Wild Primate,’ supervised by Dr. David Watts. Primates are long-lived among mammals and humans in particular are distinguished by exceptional longevity, which is proposed to have co-evolved with some of the defining characteristics of our species. Yet the physiological bases of this trait are not well understood. This study explored the evolution of senescence in primates using analyses of whole genome and exome sequence data from wild Verreaux’s sifakas ( Propithecus verreauxi ), a primate which, like humans, is long-lived for its body size and demonstrates a slow rate of aging. Scans for signatures of positive selection in 210 aging-related candidate genes revealed evidence of accelerated evolution in 20 of these genes. The largest functional category represented amongst these loci was the broad classification of genomic maintenance, which is consistent with the findings of genomic analyses of other naturally long-lived mammals, including naked mole rats, bats, and whales. In particular, a number of genes were identified that are involved in DNA double strand break repair, a phenomenon that has been associated with aging. These findings contribute to knowledge of the potential physiological basis of aging and provide a foundation for numerous follow-up studies.