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Concept: Callithrix


The perception of the pitch of harmonic complex sounds is a crucial function of human audition, especially in music and speech processing. Whether the underlying mechanisms of pitch perception are unique to humans, however, is unknown. Based on estimates of frequency resolution at the level of the auditory periphery, psychoacoustic studies in humans have revealed several primary features of central pitch mechanisms. It has been shown that (i) pitch strength of a harmonic tone is dominated by resolved harmonics; (ii) pitch of resolved harmonics is sensitive to the quality of spectral harmonicity; and (iii) pitch of unresolved harmonics is sensitive to the salience of temporal envelope cues. Here we show, for a standard musical tuning fundamental frequency of 440 Hz, that the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), a New World monkey with a hearing range similar to that of humans, exhibits all of the primary features of central pitch mechanisms demonstrated in humans. Thus, marmosets and humans may share similar pitch perception mechanisms, suggesting that these mechanisms may have emerged early in primate evolution.

Concepts: Callithrix, Primate, Acoustics, Sound, Pitch, Music, Timbre, Musical tuning


We report the whole-genome sequence of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). The 2.26-Gb genome of a female marmoset was assembled using Sanger read data (6×) and a whole-genome shotgun strategy. A first analysis has permitted comparison with the genomes of apes and Old World monkeys and the identification of specific features that might contribute to the unique biology of this diminutive primate, including genetic changes that may influence body size, frequent twinning and chimerism. We observed positive selection in growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor genes (growth pathways), respiratory complex I genes (metabolic pathways), and genes encoding immunobiological factors and proteases (reproductive and immunity pathways). In addition, both protein-coding and microRNA genes related to reproduction exhibited evidence of rapid sequence evolution. This genome sequence for a New World monkey enables increased power for comparative analyses among available primate genomes and facilitates biomedical research application.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Organism, Virus, Genome, Callithrix, Primate


Two health problems have plagued captive common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) colonies for nearly as long as those colonies have existed: marmoset wasting syndrome and metabolic bone disease. While marmoset wasting syndrome is explicitly linked to nutrient malabsorption, we propose metabolic bone disease is also linked to nutrient malabsorption, although indirectly. If animals experience negative nutrient balance chronically, critical nutrients may be taken from mineral stores such as the skeleton, thus leaving those stores depleted. We indirectly tested this prediction through an initial investigation of digestive efficiency, as measured by apparent energy digestibility, and serum parameters known to play a part in metabolic bone mineral density of captive common marmoset monkeys. In our initial study on 12 clinically healthy animals, we found a wide range of digestive efficiencies, and subjects with lower digestive efficiency had lower serum vitamin D despite having higher food intakes. A second experiment on 23 subjects including several with suspected bone disease was undertaken to measure digestive and serum parameters, with the addition of a measure of bone mineral density by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Bone mineral density was positively associated with apparent digestibility of energy, vitamin D, and serum calcium. Further, digestive efficiency was found to predict bone mineral density when mediated by serum calcium. These data indicate that a poor ability to digest and absorb nutrients leads to calcium and vitamin D insufficiency. Vitamin D absorption may be particularly critical for indoor-housed animals, as opposed to animals in a more natural setting, because vitamin D that would otherwise be synthesized via exposure to sunlight must be absorbed from their diet. If malabsorption persists, metabolic bone disease is a possible consequence in common marmosets. These findings support our hypothesis that both wasting syndrome and metabolic bone disease in captive common marmosets are consequences of inefficient nutrient absorption. Am. J. Primatol. 00:1-8, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Bone, Vitamin D, Nutrition, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Digestion, Marmoset


BACKGROUND: Common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) are susceptible to gastrointestinal diseases. Sensitivity to nutritional elements, for example gluten, has been suggested, but a serological screening has not been performed yet. METHODS: A gluten-containing diet was offered to 24 animals, followed by a gluten-free diet. During these diets, serum IgA antibodies to gliadin (AGA), tissue transglutaminase (tTG), deamidated gliadin (ADGA), and glycoprotein 2 (AGP2A) were determined. Body weight, diarrhea, and other clinical symptoms were recorded. RESULTS: Gluten increased AGA, tTG, and AGP2A concentrations in 13 of 24 animals. A significant decline of AGA and AGP2A was seen on gluten withdrawal. Positive (AGA, tTG) animals presented diarrhea more frequently on gluten-containing diet and showed significantly increased body weight on gluten-free diet compared to negative animals. CONCLUSION: Gluten ingestion caused gastrointestinal symptoms in common marmosets, which disappeared on gluten withdrawal. Considering the immunological response to both diets, gluten sensitivity seems to be most likely.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Wheat, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Coeliac disease, Gluten, Triticeae glutens


There is an emerging interest in brain-mapping projects in countries across the world, including the USA, Europe, Australia and China. In 2014, Japan started a brain-mapping project called Brain Mapping by Integrated Neurotechnologies for Disease Studies (Brain/MINDS). Brain/MINDS aims to map the structure and function of neuronal circuits to ultimately understand the vast complexity of the human brain, and takes advantage of a unique non-human primate animal model, the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). In Brain/MINDS, the RIKEN Brain Science Institute acts as a central institute. The objectives of Brain/MINDS can be categorized into the following three major subject areas: (i) structure and functional mapping of a non-human primate brain (the marmoset brain); (ii) development of innovative neurotechnologies for brain mapping; and (iii) human brain mapping; and clinical research. Brain/MINDS researchers are highly motivated to identify the neuronal circuits responsible for the phenotype of neurological and psychiatric disorders, and to understand the development of these devastating disorders through the integration of these three subject areas.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Human, Human brain, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Primate, Callitrichidae


In the cooperative breeding common marmoset monkey, Callithrix jacchus, fathers share the care responsibility and energetic load with their mate from the time their infants are born. However, not all fathers show the same level of participation in direct infant care. Here we present the first results demonstrating that fathering style can improve both survival and growth trajectory of a male’s offspring during the first 30 weeks of life and that these infant outcomes are consistent within a father throughout successive births. Twenty-four marmoset fathers were tested for their responsiveness to an infant distress call when their infants were approximately two weeks old. These fathers were categorized as either responsive (RS) or nonresponsive (NRS) based on their response to the calls. Survival past 1 month was then determined and bi-monthly weights of current infants through 30 weeks of age were taken. Infant survival to the first month was significantly higher with RS fathers than with NRS fathers during this critical time period. Infants from RS fathers also had a higher growth trajectory with significant differences in body weight in the 28th and 30th week after birth. Only the RS fathers showed a significant increase in serum testosterone in response to infant cries suggesting a physiological role of testosterone in the motivation to search for the infant. Furthermore, all offspring born to RS fathers from subsequent births also showed a significantly higher survival rate and higher growth trajectory than for offspring of NRS fathers. These results suggest that fathering style is a consistent trait and responsive fathers improve infant survival rate and growth during the first 30 weeks. Such fathering style traits may be passed on to the male offspring due to environmental or genetic factors.

Concepts: Childbirth, Infant, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Primate, Father, Callitrichidae, Buffy-tufted Marmoset


New World monkeys (NWMs) are characterized by an extensive size range, with clawed NWMs (subfamily Callitrichinae, or callitrichines) such as the common marmoset manifesting diminutive size and unique reproductive adaptations. Perhaps the most notable of these adaptations is their propensity toward multiple gestations (i.e., dichorionic twins and trichorionic triplets). Indeed, with the exception of Goeldi’s monkey (Callimico), callitrichine singleton pregnancies rarely occur. Multiple gestations seem to have coevolved with a suite of reproductive adaptations, including hematopoetic chimerism of siblings, suppression of reproduction in nondominant females, and cooperative alloparenting. The sequencing of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) genome offers the opportunity to explore the genetic basis of these unusual traits within this primate lineage. In this study, we hypothesized that genetic changes arising during callitrichine evolution resulted in multiple ovulated ova with each cycle, and that these changes triggered adaptations that minimized complications common to multiple gestations in other primates, including humans. Callitrichine-specific nonsynonymous substitutions were identified in GDF9, BMP15, BMP4, and WFIKKN1. WFIKKN1, a multidomain protease inhibitor that binds growth factors and bone morphogenetic proteins, has nonsynonymous changes found exclusively in common marmosets and other tested callitrichine species that twin. In the one callitrichine species that does not produce twins (Callimico), this change has reverted back to the ancestral (nontwinning) primate sequence. Polymorphisms in GDF9 occur among human cohorts with a propensity for dizygotic twins, and polymorphisms in GDF9 and BMP15 are associated with twinning in sheep. We postulate that positive selection affected NWM growth patterns, with callitrichine miniaturization coevolving with a series of reproductive adaptations.

Concepts: Human, Reproduction, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Primate, Twin, Marmoset, Callitrichidae


Conversational turn-taking is an integral part of language development, as it reflects a confluence of social factors that mitigate communication. Humans coordinate the timing of speech based on the behaviour of another speaker, a behaviour that is learned during infancy. While adults in several primate species engage in vocal turn-taking, the degree to which similar learning processes underlie its development in these non-human species or are unique to language is not clear. We recorded the natural vocal interactions of common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) occurring with both their sibling twins and parents over the first year of life and observed at least two parallels with language development. First, marmoset turn-taking is a learned vocal behaviour. Second, marmoset parents potentially played a direct role in guiding the development of turn-taking by providing feedback to their offspring when errors occurred during vocal interactions similarly to what has been observed in humans. Though species-differences are also evident, these findings suggest that similar learning mechanisms may be implemented in the ontogeny of vocal turn-taking across our Order, a finding that has important implications for our understanding of language evolution.

Concepts: Human, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Primate, Learning, Developmental psychology, Marmoset, Callitrichidae


Two-photon imaging with genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) enables long-term observation of neuronal activity in vivo. However, there are very few studies of GECIs in primates. Here, we report a method for long-term imaging of a GECI, GCaMP6f, expressed from adeno-associated virus vectors in cortical neurons of the adult common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), a small New World primate. We used a tetracycline-inducible expression system to robustly amplify neuronal GCaMP6f expression and up- and downregulate it for more than 100 days. We succeeded in monitoring spontaneous activity not only from hundreds of neurons three-dimensionally distributed in layers 2 and 3 but also from single dendrites and axons in layer 1. Furthermore, we detected selective activities from somata, dendrites, and axons in the somatosensory cortex responding to specific tactile stimuli. Our results provide a way to investigate the organization and plasticity of cortical microcircuits at subcellular resolution in non-human primates.

Concepts: Neuron, Cerebral cortex, Axon, Synapse, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Primate, Callitrichidae


The impact of the intrauterine environment on the developmental programming of adult female reproductive success is still poorly understood and potentially underestimated. Litter size variation in a nonhuman primate, the common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus), allows us to model the effects of varying intrauterine environments (e.g. nutrient restriction, exposure to male womb-mates) on the risk of losing fetuses in adulthood. Our previous work has characterized the fetuses of triplet pregnancies as experiencing intrauterine nutritional restriction.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Reproduction, Embryo, Uterus, Common Marmoset, Callithrix, Abortion, Callitrichidae