A study on birds reveals another potential negative consequence of breeding with relatives: shorter lifespans. The resecarch, published in Molecular Ecology, was carried out in a small population of warblers endemic to the Cousin Island, in Seychelles.
Ever wondered why giraffes has that amazing long neck? For the first time, the genomes of this African rumiant and its closest living relative, the okapi, have been sequenced. They have revealed the first clues about the genetic changes that led to the evolution of the giraffe's exceptionally long neck and its record-holding ranking as the world's tallest land species.
The New York Times reflects on the possibilities and the risk of the new genomic techniques for twisting genes. Scientist are following this line of research, for example, to fight against mosquitoes and stopping Zika spreading, but it could be used to preserve biodiversity too.
Sense of smell is critical for survival in many mammals. Researchers examined the olfactory receptor (OR) repertoire encoded in 13 mammalian species and found that African elephants have the largest number of OR genes ever characterized; more than twice that found in dogs, and five times more than in humans....
The elephant shark is a 'living fossil' fish who earned his name from the bottom of his face, that resembles the end of an elephant's trunk. It has turned to be the most slowest evolving genome of all known vertebrates, whose DNA has barely changed over hundreds of millions of years, with a skeleton made up in cartilage rather than bone and a very simple immune system. An international team of scientist from 12 institutions analyzed it's genome and their foundlings shed light into bone creation carrying potential implications for human bone disease treatment like osteoporosis, and also opens new paths on immune research.
Born in the wild in Equatorial Guinea, Snowflake called the Barcelona Zoo home for almost 40 years before dying of skin cancer in 2003, during which time he fathered 22 offspring with three different females.
Despite repeated efforts to explain the genetic cause of his lack of pigment, however, scientists were unable to identify the cause of his albinism. The closest they ever came was in identifying the gene containing Snowflake's condition, though no causative mutation was found.
The San Diego Zoo is conducting a research about California Condor to improve their management. Their work includes detection of West Nile Virus (WNV) and investigations into the potential cause of vaccine failure. Using this knowledge, they will develop improved vaccination models for WNV and avian influenza and strategies that will be effective under free-ranging conditions.
Conservation genomics can be broadly defined as the use of new genomic techniques to solve problems in conservation biology. Frankham recently reviewed the current status of conservation genetics and proposed 13 priorities for development in the field. Many of these priorities have been intractable through traditional genetic techniques. Although genomic techniques are not appropriate or necessary in all cases, we believe that genomics will have an important role in addressing several research challenges over the next few years.
Genomic techniques will be more immediately applicable to some questions than to others. For example, in estimating neutral population parameters, such as effective population size, genomics simply provides a larger number of markers to an analytical and conceptual framework that is already widely used in conservation genetics. Genomic identification of functionally important genes is now common in other fields; conservation genomics can incorporate these approaches to study the genetic basis of local adaptation or inbreeding depression.
The genetic changes occurring in endangered species might increase their extinction probabilities. Low population sizes leads to reduced genetic diversity and increased inbreeding. A low of genetic diversity means a reduced ability to adapt to environmental changes. Inbreeding is often associated to reduced reproduction and survival. Genetic factors might thus play an important role in species extinction -and therefore in their conservation.
Molecular genetic markers are often used to assess the genetic status of endangered species and populations. This information is then used to elaborate conservation plans designed to maximize genetic diversity and minimize inbreeding.