Researchers of the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now sequenced the genetic code of this endangered species and have identified several sequence changes that underlie the kiwi’s adaptation to a nocturnal lifestyle.
Researchers have shown that a site specific double strand break (DSB) generated both in the genome and the donor plasmid using the CRISPR-Cas9 system can be efficiently used to target ∼5 kb plasmids into mammalian genomes via nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). They were able to achieve efficiencies of up to 0.17% in HEK293 cells and 0.45% in CHO cells. This technique holds promise for quick and efficient insertion of a large foreign DNA sequence into a predetermined genomic site in mammalian cells.
Scientists “resurrected” a mammoth gene by transplanting it into a human kidney cell in the lab. The gene, called TRPV3, is known to affect temperature sensation and hair growth regulation. When they added the mammoth TRPV3 gene to a human cell, the gene produced a protein that was less responsive to heat than modern elephants. In other words, mammoths’ unique TRPV3 gene may have contributed to their cold tolerance.
A great simplified overview of the complexities involved in genome comparison.
The fossilized blood cells were found in the claw of an a unidentified theropod (a dinosaur group which includes T. rex and velociraptor). The collagen was found in several other bones, including ribs from unknown species or genuses. Furthermore, molecular analysis of the fossilized tissues (using a tool called a mass spectrometer) has revealed the fossils contain some of their original biological proteins and amino acids—molecules that are thought to degrade completely after 4 million years.
The question “how far should we go to bring back a lost species?” opens a deeper discussion that requires us to consider what kind of world we want now and for the future. In answering, I am considering the world of nature and envisioning the distant future, the one we think of the least. Five or ten thousand years almost encompasses the depth of human history, and we now recognize our actions will impact planetary biodiversity over the next five to ten thousand years. With increasing capability, we are altering the future of life on Earth and are gaining vast new ways of doing so. We must consider what we want going forward.