Australian scientists have joined forces with a U.S.-based biotechnology firm to help speed up efforts to bring back the Australian marsupial high predator, the thylacine (also known as the Tasmanian leopard).
The University of Melbourne’s Thylacine Integrated Genomic Restoration Research Lab is home to the Thylacine Integrated Genomic Restoration Research Lab. ReceivedA $5 million philanthropic gift was made in March to Dallas-based Colossal Biosciences. This partnership will make the largest contribution to marsupial conservation efforts. According toUniversity of Melbourne
In 1936, the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity and was officially declared extinct. The animal went extinct mainly due to the bounties placed on them by humans. Because of their carnivorous nature, Tasmanian tigers were considered a threat to livestock. Due to increased hunting, the animals were forced from their land and eventually wiped out. According to Colossal.
Why is deextinction important? Colossal says that as an apex predator, Tasmanian tigers played a huge role in trophic downgrading, but since they no longer play their important role in the ecosystem, cascading effects on the food chain can lead to catastrophes including diseases, wildfires and the introduction of invasive species.
Through their partnership, Australian and American scientists are allowing each other access to resources such as the CRISPR DNA editing technology, propelling the research far beyond of what was previously thought capable.
“A lot of the challenges with our efforts can be overcome by an army of scientists working on the same problems simultaneously, conducting and collaborating on the many experiments to accelerate discoveries,” Professor Andrew Pask, head of the TIGRR lab, told the University of Melbourne’s Newsroom. “With this partnership, I now believe that in ten years’ time we could have our first living baby thylacine since they were hunted to extinction close to a century ago.”
According to Colossal Pask and his team were able to use an animal’s preserved DNA specimen of 108 years to sequence its genome.
Scientists are hoping to edit living cells similar to the Tasmanian Tiger’s genome to create new cells. According to The Guardian.
“The Tassie Tiger’s extinction had a devastating effect on our ecosystem and we are thrilled to support the revolutionary conservation efforts that are being made by Dr. Pask and the entire Colossal team,”According to Colossal: Chris Hemsworth is an actor, investor and activist in Colossal.