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Scientists sequence endangered Tasmanian devil's genome
Date:6/27/2011

sity it had before the DFTD epidemic struck."

Schuster also said that a significant and defining part of the team's project was the ability to generate extra-long genetic sequences using a special genome-sequencing technology that, at the time the scientists performed the research, had not yet been released publicly. "This technology, developed by Roche Diagnostics and 454 Life Sciences, allowed us to assemble a mammalian genome from scratch," Schuster said. "The longer stretches of DNA or "long reads" were particularly critical to develop a full understanding of the genetic makeup of such a unique species."

Schuster and Miller hope that their novel strategies for tackling impending extinction will be applied to other endangered species. "We humans have contributed to the endangerment of many native species, so it's our responsibility to find a way to help fix things by giving nature a hand," Miller said. "Here's a way to think about it: If a driver causes a car accident, he is morally responsible for restoring any injured person to the state of health that the person enjoyed before the accident. Likewise, our goal is to use museomics to inform efforts to restore the genetic health of endangered species to that which existed before humans came on the scene." Schuster added, "To plan for the future, you have to be willing to understand the past. It's important to examine museum specimens, as well as the population history of species over the last 10,000 to 50,000 years, and to use that genetic data to formulate a plan. The idea is to save a species, not to do a 'post-mortem' on it."

Schuster noted that the team's novel genomic concept at first was considered to be a "high risk/high gain" research strategy. "We are particularly grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation since this organization had the foresight to support this research, which has resulted in a promising working regime for applying modern genomic methods to sp
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Contact: Barbara Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

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