Visualizing the Similarity of Human and Chimp DNA

Eamonn KeoghStefano Lonardi, Victor B. Zordan, Sang-Hee Lee and Manel Jara.

University of California - Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521

The recent publication of the complete chimp genome, marked by a celebratory issue of the journal Nature, tells us that humans and chimps share 96 percent of the same genetic material. This number is hard to comprehend, what exactly does it means to say that we share 96% of our DNA with our closest living cousins?

Directly examining the DNA it self does not help. For example, consider the first 100 base pairs of the chimps mitochondrial DNA:

and the first 100 base pairs of the Humans mitochondrial DNA:

It is very difficult to gauge similarity, and the full genome for both human and chimp is actually about 3 billion base pairs long!  

We have built a simple tool to allow people to visualize and understand the similarity/dissimilarity of DNA sequences. While this work is currently unpublished and still ongoing, we have released a video relating to human and chimp DNA to coincide with the publication of the complete chimp genome.

The video is approximately 2 minutes long and completely self contained. Below is the Youtube version, you may prefer to view the much higher resolution standalone versions below.



Brief bios of participants:

Alexandra Seremina was kind enough to translate this page into Romanian


If you wish to reference this work, please use:

E. Keogh, S. Lonardi, V. B. Zordan, S.H. Lee and M. Jara.(2005). Visualizing the Similarity of Human and Chimp DNA. (Multimedia Video).

Thanks to Colin Crenshaw, Bill Yuan-chi Chiu and Anwar Adi for help and suggestions. The music in the video is Chopin - Ballade No. 4 in f minor, Op.52, Andante con moto, performed by Dr. Sang-Hee Lee.