Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New DNA studies verify existence of three right whale species

17.02.2005


For the first time, two types of genetic material--both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA--have been used to verify a new species designation of great whale, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups in The Royal Society’s Proceedings: Biological Sciences. According to the recent study conducted by researchers at WCS, the American Museum of Natural History, Fordham University, and University of Maryland, the North Pacific right whale has been confirmed as genetically distinct from both the North Atlantic and Southern right whale, a designation with important implications for conservation efforts.



"In 2001, we compared mitochondrial DNA samples from individual whales from different ocean basins and found that the North Pacific right whales merited their own species name," said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, researcher for WCS and the American Museum of Natural History. "Our recent analysis using both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA has produced even stronger support for this taxonomic revision, proving that both types of genetic material can be used in tandem to test and revise species classifications and subsequently redirect conservation efforts for those populations most in need."

Traditionally, mitochondrial DNA has been the preferred marker for descriptions of the genetic diversity within populations and for comparisons between different populations, in large part due to the rapid rate of sequence divergence in genetic sequences. The recent study, which used both mitochondrial and nuclear introns containing single nucleotide polymorphisms, more popularly known as SNPs, to complement one another, found that both kinds of markers support the listing of the North Pacific right whale (changed from the North Pacific population of Eubalaena glacialis to Eubalaena japonica, the North Pacific Right Whale) as its own taxon. The analysis included samples from individual North Atlantic right whales, southern right whales, and North Pacific right whales.


The study’s lead author Carl Gaines, identified diagnostic nucleotide characters in the nuclear DNA for each of the three right whale species, adding to number of diagnostic mitochondrial DNA markers already reported by previous studies. For the North Pacific right whale, a total of 14 diagnostic markers were added to the existing three mitochondrial markers. Together, the datasets combined along with other analytical procedures provided researchers with the most definitive evidence for North Pacific right whales as a species. This combination of evidence was recently recommended as necessary for changing species designations for whales and dolphins by a US government convened workshop.

The agreement of both types of nuclear material in determining the status of North Pacific right whales coincides with a number of recent sightings of these rare cetaceans in the Bering Sea, where researchers working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased the record of known individuals from 13 to at least 25 individual animals. The survey team also spotted mother and calf pairs, an indication that this population may be increasing its numbers.

Rosenbaum added, "In addition to recent sightings and acoustical studies on the species greatly aiding in this species conservation, our genetic findings will help to support and inform additional management efforts to better protect the North Pacific right whale, one the most endangered of all great whale species."

Reaching some 50 feet in length and weighing up to 100 tons, right whales were once abundant along all land masses in the world’s temperate latitudes. Right whales were among the first whale species to be hunted commercially, largely due to the fact that the animals were slow swimmers and would often float after being killed. Whalers termed them the "right" whales to hunt, soon exterminating the whales from many parts of the globe. Right whales were finally given full protection by the International Whaling Commission in 1935, but recovery for all populations has been slow at best. Hunting of right whales in the North Pacific by commercial whaling vessels continued into the 1970s causing them to nearly go extinct in this ocean basin. All species remain classified as either endangered or vulnerable according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

John Delaney | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wcs.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

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

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>