The anticipated completion of two of the most biomedically relevant genomes, mouse and human, within the next three years provides an unparalleled opportunity for the large-scale exploration of genome evolution. Targeted sequencing of genomic regions in a panel of primate species and comparison to reference genomes will provide critical insight into the nature of single-base pair variation, mechanisms of chromosomal rearrangement, patterns of selection, and species adaptation. Although not recognized as model "genetic organisms" because of their longevity and low fecundity, 30 of the approximately 300 primate species are targets of biomedical research. The existence of a human reference sequence and genomic primate BAC libraries greatly facilitates the recovery of genes/genomic regions of high biological interest because of an estimated maximum neutral nucleotide sequence divergence of 25%. Primate species, therefore, may be regarded as the ideal model "genomic organisms". Based on existing BAC library resources, we propose the construction of a panel of primate BAC libraries from phylogenetic anchor species for the purpose of comparative medicine as well as studies of genome evolution.
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