Gujarat readies to clone its Lions

Sets up DNA Banks to preserve and improve Gene pool

Like humans, Asiatic Lions now have a gene bank with a cloning facility. In collaboration with the Gujarat State Bio-Technology Mission (GSBTM), the forest department has already collected 80 strains of DNA of the Asiatic lion.

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The DNA banking of lions will not only be useful for further diseases and management related issues, but will also help to have healthy lion genes. An exclusive “Institute of Wildlife Genomics and DNA Banking” will be set up by the end of this year.

Akshaykumar Saxena, the GSBTM Director, says, “The institute is a joint collaboration of the forest department and the GSBTM, and will come up in Gandhinagar(Gujarat). We are already working on the project”.

The institute will help the department to overcome fears that the genes of the lions are deteriorating, as the institute will have a data bank of genes of different types of lions in Gir Region (Gujarat, India). Having lineage data will help the wildlife experts evaluate breeding stress and diseases susceptibility, say officials. The DNA bank will also have embryo transfer technology to supplement highly endangered species.

asian-lion-sleeping_452_990x742An official says, “The institute will help identify the cats with the best genes, which will be introduced at the gene pool centre set up at Sakarbaugh Zoo (Junagadh, Gujarat, India) and Rampara Virdi (Rajkot, Gujarat, India).

Once the institute is fully operational, various studies related to diseases and other management aspects of lions will be taken up. The genetic material stored in these banks will be used to increase genetic diversity. Material from DNA banks can be used to infuse small populations with new genetic material, increasing their chances of survival. Another goal of DNA banks is to increase the population size.

In 1999, at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered species a domestic house cat gave birth to an African wildcat kitten that had been frozen as an embryo in a DNA bank. This was the first example of inter species birth. In 2000, the Center produced test-tube Caracal cats from sperm that had been stored in their DNA bank.

Officials say that the GSBTM is also in the process of collecting samples of cubs born at Rampara virdi (Rajkot, Gujarat, India) to study their genes. The GSBTM also plans to carry out a study of the Pestes Des Petits Ruminants Virus (PPRV).

Courtesy:- Times of India

 

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