Monday, 26 November 2012

Bornean Elephant: Genomics Helps With Conservation


ScienceDaily (Nov. 21, 2012) — Studying the genetic variability of endangered species is becoming increasingly necessary for species conservation and monitoring. But, endangered species are difficult to observe and sample, and typically harbour very limited genetic diversity. Until now, the process of finding genetic markers was time consuming and quite expensive. These obstacles make the collection of genetic data from endangered animals a difficult task to fulfill. A research team led by Lounès Chikhi, group leader at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) and CNRS researcher (in Toulouse, France), has now contributed to change the odds when looking for diversity.

Taking advantage of cutting edge DNA sequencing methodology and the collaborations with the Sabah Wildlife Department in Malaysia, Rachel O'Neill's laboratory  (University of Connecticut) and a private company (Floragenex), they were able to identify the genetic markers for the Bornean elephant, an endangered species, using blood from very few animals. The results showed that Bornean elephants have very low genetic variability that can impact on their survival to a threatened habitat, but that variable genetic markers can still be identified.

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