The Genetic Rescue Foundation Blog

Russia has opened a laboratory in Siberia devoted to the study of extinct animal DNA in the hope of creating clones

The new lab in Yakutsk – often called the world’s coldest city – will “seek out live cells with a view to cloning”, says Semen Grigoryev, director of the Mammoth Museum at the city’s Northeastern Federal University. He tells Ogonek magazine that “the priority is to look into bringing back the mammoth”, adding that the Beijing Institute of Genomics and South Korea’s Sooam Biotech company, which has pioneered dog cloning, will be involved in the study.

Earlier this year, researchers at Harvard University announced they had copied 14 woolly mammoth genes into the genome of an Asian elephant. The scientists at Yakutsk’s new facility hope that their own unrivalled collection of 2,000 or so remnants of prehistoric animals, ranging from primitive dogs and horses to mammoths, will help to identify quality cell tissue from which to extract useful DNA.

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Critically endangered species successfully reproduced using frozen sperm from ferret dead for 20 years

Black-footed ferrets, a critically endangered species native to North America, have renewed hope for future survival thanks to successful efforts by a coalition of conservationists, including scientists at Lincoln Park Zoo, to reproduce genetically important offspring using frozen semen from a ferret who has been dead for approximately 20 years.

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UCSC Paleogenomics Lab joins quest for moa genome

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The Moa Revival Project is excited to announce that the UCSC Paleogenomics Lab will be assisting with the moa genome sequencing attempt.

The Paleogenomics Lab is a joint venture between renowned scientists Beth Shapiro, and Richard (Ed) Green. Their research focuses on a wide range of evolutionary and ecological questions, mostly involving the application of genomics techniques to better understand how species and populations evolve through time.

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Kiwi Genome Sequenced

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.

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Over 5000 base pairs were inserted into mammalian cells using a simplified end joining process

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.

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Scientists resurrect woolly mammoth gene in human cell

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.

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Are We Really 99% Chimp?

A great simplified overview of the complexities involved in genome comparison.

Fossilized dinosaur blood (but no genetic material)

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.

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Oliver A. Ryder on designing the destiny of biological diversity

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.

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Complete Woolly Mammoth Genome Sequenced

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. A US team is already attempting to study the animals’ characteristics by inserting mammoth genes into elephant stem cells. They want to find out what made the mammoths different from their modern relatives and how their adaptations helped them survive the ice ages. The new genome study has been published in the journal Current Biology.

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Scientists sequencing DNA of endangered tuatara

World-leading biologist Stephen O’Brien, currently in New Zealand, has looked at the DNA extracted from blood, feathers and saliva of threatened animals for almost four decades. The information has helped conservationists to anticipate the hidden dangers, such as inbreeding and disease, that could wipe a species out.

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