Thursday, April 11, 2019

CSI Meets Conservation Biology

According to a Science Daily article  Stanford University has found a way to protect endangered species by studying their DNA. Protecting endangered species has many challenges and can cost a fortune for conservation scientist and researchers. By being able to study a species DNA, scientist can gather valuable information such as inbreeding, population history, natural selection and evolution. However, the current approach requires large amounts of DNA which can be very difficult to obtain when dealing with endangered species. Standford's Program for Conservation Genomic and India's National Center for Biological Sciences decided to collaborate and create a new sequencing method that amplified the small bits of DNA that were obtained using different samples.

Endangered Species

The researchers found DNA in the endangered animal feces, shed hair, saliva found on killed prey and simultaneously tested them in the same test tubes. This method and technology proved to be highly effective at comparing the genetic characteristics of the DNA. The researchers stated this was an easy lab technique to implement, and can be done relatively cheap because it did not need extensive lab equipment. The data generated could be shared easily across other labs. The technique details, material and methods can be found, here. The current methods to gathering information take a long time, and when it comes to endangered animals, time is something that they don't have. The researchers at Standford have made their methods freely available to everyone-which I think is great because it makes it easier to share data across borders.

1 comment:

  1. I found this article interesting and positive in several aspects. First, I am so happy that scientists are researching how to help these endangered species! It is devastating that there are people who still hunt/harm (directly/indirectly) these endangered species. If the roles were reversed, we would want their help! Second, I am glad that they found cruelty-free ways in which to obtain DNA samples (i.e., feces, shed hair, and saliva). These species are going through enough, without having to be poked and prodded. Further research in this topic would be beneficial for generations to come. How unfortunate would it be to be telling your future generations about manatees or rhinos, for example, but they never get to experience seeing one for themselves? Tragic.