A genome to blue your mind

The blue monkey, Cercopithecus mitis, is an Old World monkey species endemic to Central and East Africa. Though called blue monkeys, they are actually more gray in appearance. As frugivores, the majority of the blue monkey's diet consists of fruit but they also eat leaves and occasionally insects. Wild populations of blue monkeys display interspecies cooperation, notably with red-tailed monkeys (C. ascanius) for extra protection against predators [1].

Cercopithecus mitis by Yvonne A. de Jong, [CC BY-NC-SA], via inaturalist.org

Today, we release the genome assembly for the blue monkey, Cercopithecus mitis. The genome was generated using a sample from the T.C. Hsu Cryo-Zoo at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center stored all the way back in 1978! We thank Drs. Asha Multani, Sen Pathak, Richard Behringer, Liesl Nel-Themaat and Arisa Furuta in the Department of Genetics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center for their help with this sample.


There are several recognized subspecies of the blue monkey [2]. At different times in history, they may have been viewed as separate species entirely, but have been later recategorized as subspecies. Our analysis of the mitochondrial sequence for the individual monkey that donated sample for this assembly suggests it is a Cercopithecus mitis albogularis, more commonly known as the Sykes' monkey.


This is a $1K genome assembly, following the protocol outlined on out Methods page. This genome assembly has a contig N50 = 28 Kb and a scaffold N50 = 51 Mb. Check out the 36 chromosomes (2n=72) of the blue monkey in the interactive JuiceBox map session below!

Whether you're interested in Old or New World monkeys, we've got you covered. This is the sixth Old World monkey species we've released here on the DNA Zoo blog and the 18th primate overall! Check out our $1K de novo assemblies for the Guinea baboon (Papio papio), the Allen's swamp monkey (Allenopithecus nigroviridis), and the Patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas).

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