, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 305-318

Matrilineal kin relationship and social behavior of wild bonobos (Pan paniscus): Sequencing the D-loop region of mitochondrial DNA

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Abstract

Matrilineal kin-relations among wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) were studied by DNA analysis. Subject individuals were the members of E1 group, living at Wamba, Zaire, which has been studied since 1974. DNA samples were extracted from wadges that bonobos spat out when feeding on sugar cane. The D-loop region of mitochondrial DNA was amplified by the PCR method, and a nucleotide sequence of 350 base pairs was determined for 17 individuals. Nucleotide variations were found at 44 positions of the sequence. Based on these variations, 13 matrilineal units were divided into seven groups, and the mother of an orphan male was determined among several females. These genetic analyses, together with behavioral observation to date, revealed the following facts. High sequence variation in the target region indicated that females transfer between groups of bonobos, which is in agreement with supposition from long-term field studies. For females, there was no relationship between genetic closeness and social closeness that is represented by frequencies of proximity or grooming. After immigration into a new group, females form social associations with senior females without regard to kin relationship.