Results of 10-year study provides new DNA tools that can help conservation efforts
Tigers - they are some of nature's most beautiful, deadly and endangered species. In fact, living tigers are severely endangered in fragmented geographic areas across Asia - some reports show their numbers as low as 3,000 wild individuals. While there are efforts to help protect these magnificent creatures, more was needed in terms of research into the genetics of tigers.
Nova Southeastern University researcher Stephen O'Brien was part of a team of research scientists from China, the United Kingdom, Israel, Russia and Qatar that looked at the genetic make-up of tigers. Their 10-year study, which is published online in the Journal of Heredity and will appear in the print edition May 1, 2015 describes DNA signatures for 145 individual tigers, including "voucher specimens" of tigers from verified geographic origins including Eurasian museum specimens that represented extinct subspecies.
Their study's first results appeared in 2004 that showed Malayan tigers splitting from its Indochinese counterpart as a distinct, new fifth-living tiger subspecies. The latest results show that extinct Javan (1980s) and Bali (1940s) tigers were nearly indistinguishable from a molecular standpoint from Sumatran tigers just as the extinct Caspian tigers are nearly identical to surviving Amur tiger subspecies.
"These results are important to help craft management strategies for protecting each surviving subspecies of tiger and stabilizing the march toward extinction that they are clearly on," O'Brien said. "These markers also provide powerful tools for forensic identification of subspecies in captive populations as well as trafficked bones and skins in illegal trade enforcement."
O'Brien likened the new tiger DNA findings to how DNA testing changed the way human courts gather evidence to prosecute cases. The same approach can be applied to tigers as a new, more powerful tool for wildlife protection and, hopefully, reducing illegal wildlife commerce.
Prior to his role with NSU, O'Brien served as Chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute (NCI,) National Institutes of Health (NIH.) for 25 years. In 2011 he joined the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics, St. Petersburg State University (Russia) as its Chief Scientific Officer. He also serves as Director of Research for NSU's Office of Research and Technology Transfer.
O'Brien is well known for his research contributions in comparative genomics, virology, genetic epidemiology, mammalian systematics and species conservation. In 1983, he and his collaborators discovered the remarkable genetic uniformity of the African cheetah, a prelude to a new discipline of Conservation Genetics. In addition, the past four years, O'Brien has been part of an international consortium of scientists working to detail the genome sequence of 48 different birds. This group of researchers - who call themselves the Avian Phylogenomics Group - is made up of 200 scientists from 80 institutions in 20 countries. This group is an "outgrowth" of the Genome 10K Project (G10K,) which was co-founded in 2009 and led by O'Brien.
With more than three decades of field studies with his students and colleagues, O'Brien subsequently reported in approximately 300 publications, many in the highest rated scientific journals of how genetics could inform and facilitate management action for endangered species. These included identifying new species of elephant, clouded leopard and orangutan plus detailed genetics studies on threatened wildlife species including cheetahs, lions, giant panda, leopards, pumas, jaguars, koalas, humpback whales, the Florida panther and, of course, tigers.
About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and first-professional degrees levels. An independent, not-for-profit institution with approximately 25,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach and Tampa, Florida as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico and online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie's Community Engagement Classification. For more information, please visit http://www.
Joe Donzelli | EurekAlert!
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences