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Research updates 65-year-old genetic discovery

in the Department of Comparative Medicine at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Stone, who works on applications of population genetics to questions concerning the origins, population history and evolution of humans and the great apes, sent DNA samples of each of three subspecies of chimpanzees to the University of Utah.

"No chimpanzees were harmed to obtain the samples," Stone notes. The DNA is provided by veterinarians and comes from either blood samples or cheek swabs. She uses these samples to help zoos, sanctuaries and primate centers identify subspecies of chimpanzees.

"My goal is to better understand chimpanzees in their own right and to ultimately help with their preservation," she says.

Her samples contributed to this latest research, which found that when compared to human non-taster gene variants, "chimps don't have the same change in the middle of the gene variant as humans, but rather have a change at the start." Both changes in the sequences cause this bitter taste receptor not to work. These are the findings that demonstrate that while some humans and some chimpanzees can not taste this bitter substance, the reasons why are different.

Going forward, this new information can be used by researchers to understand bitter-taste receptors and how having particular bitter-taste receptors affect nutrition and health, Stone explains.

With this week's "Nature" cover story, Stone joins a growing list of researchers from ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences whose research has made the cover of either "Nature" or "Science" this academic year.

While that's an exceptional achievement in itself, what's noteworthy is that three of the researchers are junior faculty--assistant or associate professors. Stone, an associate professor, joins Gro Amdam, an assistant professor, and Kevin McGraw, an assistant professor, on the list. Both Amdam and McGraw are in the college's School of Life Sciences.<
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Source:Arizona State University


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