Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mitochondial DNA of Thylacine Sequenced

The Thylacine is one of the most fascinating examples of convergent evolution.  Sometimes called a marsupial wolf,  they were bounty hunted to extinction by 1936.  Of course there's talk of bringing one back via cloning. 

Hair Of Tasmanian Tiger Yields Genes Of Extinct Species

The new gene sequences permitted the team to accurately determine how the Tasmanian Tiger is related to other marsupials. They compared the sequences to a mitochondrial genome sequence they determined from a living reference species, a marsupial called a numbat. "The two thylacine sequences were extremely similar to each other, with only 5 differences in 15,492 nucleotides," Miller reports. The researchers say this similarity suggests that, as the species neared extinction, there was too little genetic diversity to resist bacterial and other environmental stresses. "Low genetic diversity is appearing as a common theme in the extinct species being studied by our team," Schuster said.

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