Imminent extinction of northern white rhinoceros motivates new genetic recovery efforts

May 24, 2018

Earlier this year, the last remaining male northern white rhinoceros died in captivity, nearly cementing the fate of this subspecies for extinction. In the wild, continuing threats of poaching, habitat destruction, and small population size have contributed to the rhino's status as Critically Endangered. Yet, novel conservation efforts that make use of cryopreserved genetic material could save the northern white rhino--and other threatened species--from extinction.

In a study published today in the journal Genome Research, researchers investigated the genetic history of nine northern white rhino (NWR) cryopreserved cell lines compared to that of a closely related subspecies, the southern white rhino (SWR). Genome analyses demonstrated that the NWR and SWR represent two distinct populations that diverged nearly 80,000 years ago, each with fairly high genetic variation compared to other threatened species. Importantly, genetic analyses of variation and inbreeding facilitated identification of cell lines, which may serve as valuable pools of genetic material for genetic rescue. Lead author Tate Tunstall, of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, emphasized the importance of this finding, stating "the SWR went through a severe genetic bottleneck, but is now the most populous of all forms of rhino at ~20,000 individuals, suggesting that a genetic rescue utilizing these cell lines could be the foundation for a similar recovery in the NWR."

This work presents the first genome sequence of the NWR and thus the current, albeit limited, gene pool of this species. Tunstall and colleagues propose that this knowledge can help guide a tailored recovery program for the NWR.

"Our study demonstrates the emerging role for whole genome sequencing analysis to evaluate the potential for population recovery," said Cynthia C. Steiner, who directed the study. Furthermore, advanced sequencing technologies, cryopreservation efforts like that of the San Diego Zoo Frozen Zoo, as well as novel reproductive strategies can be developed to improve recovery efforts for other species that face similar threats of extinction.
-end-
Researchers from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research; Veterinary College, University of London; Dv?r Králové Zoo; and the University of California, Santa Cruz contributed to this work. The study was funded by grants from the Seaver Institute and the Caesar Kleberg Foundation for Wildlife Conservation.

San Diego Zoo Global

Related Genetic Material Articles from Brightsurf:

A material that "bruises"like the skin?
Human skin bruises when the tissue and muscle in the area suffer trauma or become damaged due to an application of blunt force. when an object suffers an impact that is expected to damage, If the areas damaged by a physical impact undergo a change in color, just like human skin, it will be easy to distinguish what needs to be repaired.

Invisible fungi revealed by their genetic material
How can new life forms that we cannot see be discovered?

The lightest shielding material in the world
Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range - and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Material and genetic resemblance in the Bronze Age Southern Levant
Different 'Canaanite' people from the Bronze Age Southern Levant not only culturally, but also genetically resemble each other more than other populations.

A talented 2D material gets a new gig
Berkeley Lab scientists have designed a tunable graphene device for experiments in exotic physics, where superconducting, insulating, and magnetic properties can be observed in a single system.

Glowing material remembers where it was pressed
Materials which can emit light after they are pressed or deformed can be applied for the monitoring of structural integrity of, for instance, bridges and wind turbines.

Calculating genetic links between diseases, without the genetic data
In a new study, data scientists from the University of Chicago estimated heritability and mapped out relationships among thousands of diseases using data from electronic health records.

New material captures carbon dioxide
The captured CO2 can be converted into useful organic materials.

CNIC scientists discover a new mechanism for the transfer of maternal genetic material
CNIC researchers have identified a mechanism involved in the prevention of possible errors during the transfer of mitochondrial DNA from mothers to their offspring.

Quantum material goes where none have gone before
Physicists have created a quantum material that can travel through a previously unexplored region marked by strange electronic properties.

Read More: Genetic Material News and Genetic Material Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.