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'Museomics' yields new insights into extinct Tasmanian tiger
Date:1/18/2009

said Dr. Anders Gtherstrm of Uppsala University in Sweden. "There is very little genetic variation between them." Gtherstrm, 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."


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Contact: Peggy Calicchia
calicchi@cshl.edu
516-422-4012
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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