Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Museomics' yields new insights into extinct Tasmanian tiger

13.01.2009
In 1902, the National Zoo in Washington D.C. arranged to have a unique and endangered animal called the thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, brought to the United States from Tasmania.

Later that year, a female and her three cubs arrived at the zoo. However, by the mid-1930s, the thylacine was extinct, leaving behind only preserved museum specimens.

In a study published online today in Genome Research (www.genome.org), researchers have used state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology to analyze preserved thylacines, including one of those brought to the National Zoo more than 100 years ago, making novel discoveries in thylacine genomics and the burgeoning field of "museomics."

The thylacine was actually not a tiger at all, rather a marsupial with many dog-like features—a striking example of convergent evolution in mammals. Extensively hunted by farmers, the thylacine was becoming increasingly rare in the wild at the time the National Zoo acquired the female and cubs, and was declared extinct in 1936 upon the death of the last captive animal. Genetic sequences sampled from the preserved specimens of the National Zoo thyalcine family have been studied in recent years, however these investigations were severely limited by DNA contamination and degradation.

Now, in a strategy nicknamed "museomics," researchers are using improved methods for sampling DNA combined with the latest sequencing technology to analyze preserved museum samples. In this study, an international team of scientists has sequenced mitochondrial and nuclear DNA from the hair of the male thylacine offspring brought to the National Zoo in 1902 and a female that died in the London Zoo in 1893. In addition to refining the place of this unusual animal in evolutionary history, genetic clues to the impending extinction of the thylacine became apparent.

"What I find amazing is that the two specimens are so similar," said Dr. Anders Götherström of Uppsala University in Sweden. "There is very little genetic variation between them." Götherström, a co-author of the study, explained that a lack of genetic diversity is indicative of a species on the brink of extinction, and we are now observing this more than 70 years later.

In addition to using the mitochondrial genome sequence to study the phylogeny of the thylacine, the authors also investigated the collection of genetic material of microbial and viral origin (the "metagenome") present on the museum samples. Interestingly, the research team found distinct differences in the microbial content of the hair of the wild-born thylacine from the London Zoo and the captive-born thylacine from the National Zoo. Furthermore, the authors noted that the specimens were preserved by differing methods. "Analyzing the microbial content of museum specimens will therefore allow us to gain insight into the microbial flora that lives on the exhibit samples and help to develop means to further protect them," said Dr. Stephan Schuster of Penn State University, also an author of the report.

This work has established the groundwork for more detailed genetic analysis of the thylacine, opened the door to more museomic studies using the treasure trove of museum specimens worldwide, and will raise dialogue about even bigger projects. "The large amount of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA gained in our study demonstrates the feasibility of a thylacine genome project," explained Schuster. "It will also revive discussions on the possible resurrection of the animal."

Peggy Calicchia | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cshl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>