The common marmoset has a body length of about 12 - 15 cm, with a tail length of 29.5 - 35 cm. Distinguishing characteristics of common marmosets include white ear tufts, and a white blaze on the forehead. The head fur is usually dark brown, while the back fur is a greyish brown color with light transverse striping. The most widely studied marmoset is the Callithrix jacchus, a member of the New World monkey clade. It is estimated that the separation of the New World monkeys occurred approximately 35 million years ago from the human lineage. As a result of their small body size and biological features unique to the marmoset, they are considered one of the choice non-human primate models. Their critical contribution to the study of brain function, immunity, reproductive biology and drug toxicity is well documented. Interestingly, the Callithrix jacchus typically give birth to twins that are somatic chimeras, each sibling is the mixture of sibling genotypes. It is anticipated that access to the marmoset genome sequence will further our understanding of knowledge gained from their use as models of human disease. --Excerpts from the Animal Diversity website.
Wild populations of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) are primarily located in the southeastern Brazilian coastal rainforest. Common marmosets live in many forest types, including plantations, yet most of their time is spent on the edges and not deep within the forest. Several large captive colonies exist in the United States and serve a critical role in research support.
The Callithrix jacchus primate will be sequenced in collaboration with the Balyor University College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center (BCM-HGSC). A total of 6x whole genome coverage will be produced from the genome of a female marmoset and serve as the reference genome. This marmoset DNA source originated from the Southwest National Primate Research Center with the assistance of Dr. Suzette Tardif. The proposed approach will combine whole genome shotgun plasmid, fosmid and BAC end sequences. The WUGSC and BCM-HGSC will jointly produce a marmoset draft sequence assembly. This preliminary sequence assembly will be released to the public, following an internal quality review. While production sequencing is in progress, a fingerprint map will be developed with a target of 15X clone coverage. Funding for the sequence characterization of the marmoset genome is being provided by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH).