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Thylacines and thylacoleos - pre 1936 and genetic ethics
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PostPosted: 28-05-2002 14:29    Post subject: Thylacines and thylacoleos - pre 1936 and genetic ethics Reply with quote

I am not at all convinced that the use of genetic engineering or cloning in plants, animals or humans is a good thing. Recently however I have heard that scientists in Australia intend to clone the Thylacine.
When I was a child in the late 70s early 80s I had a childrens book about australian wildlife and despite the fact that noone had seen any of these incredible animals for at least two generations it was included in the book. Ever since then I have been facinated by this creature. Despite my misgivings about cloning I do believe that if used properly it could redress some of the wrongs our species has inflicted upon the earth. It should, however be used in a responsible manner. These creatures, if they ever are brought back from extinction should be protected and they should be guaranteed a habitat large enough for them to maintain a population in the long term. They certainly shouldn't be brought back to be kept isolated and gawped at like freaks.

This thread is, for the moment, just a conglomeration of old ones. Once I've gathered all the stuff from the forum, I'll look to start splitting again and merging between the two thylacine threads. It will take a while, but in the meantime the vast majority of our thylacine stuff will be in one or other of them. Stu
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rossba1Offline
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PostPosted: 28-05-2002 15:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

check out http://thylacine.n3.net for everything you could ever want to know about thylacines. ive found it very interesting.
I also am fascinated by thylacines (amongst other things- see me website http://barndad.freeservers.com
they should definitely try to clone it but i am not so sure that what has happened is much of a breakthrough. There is increasing evidence that "junk" DNA that doesnt code for any protein or RNA is still important in a regulatory role. If you PCR all the genes in the thylacine then this just tells you about individual proteins. It would be like turning the encyclopaedia britannica into a disjointed collection of single pages that make no sense. You need lots of regulatory sequences of non-coding DNA (promoters, insulators, enhancers and probably other undiscovered motifs) before you have any sort of viable organism. I dont think this is the way to go to clone it. You would really want to keep the genome as intact as possible and not separate it into component genes.
Maybe one day.
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intaglioreallyOffline
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PostPosted: 28-05-2002 19:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely not. The primary reason is that Thylacines may still exist - if endangered. Until we know fo sure we'll just be introducing another variable into the population assuming the technique works.

On the technique, I've posted before that to clone an extinct species you have to have not just the complete DNA sequence but also the correct proteosome, the correct mitochondria and, I have recently been informed by a microbiologist, probably the correct microtubule structure. Until all of these are right what you produce, if anything, will almost certainly not be a thylacine.

Then you come up against the problem of how do you rear the resultant creature? The behaviors will be severely up the creek Sad
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 28-05-2002 20:37    Post subject: Tasmanian Tiger cloning close to completion Reply with quote

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H_JamesOffline
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PostPosted: 28-05-2002 21:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember there was something about cloning mammoths with DNA from the frozen semen a few years ago.
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mejane1Offline
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PostPosted: 28-05-2002 21:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

I voted No, mainly for the reasons intaglio mentioned.

I also think there's a danger that we could become even more complacent about the damage being done to the natural environment (no more tigers? Never mind we have the DNA and will bring them back sometime...)

Jane.
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harlequin2005Offline
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PostPosted: 29-05-2002 08:06    Post subject: Environment News Service Version Reply with quote

Cloning May Bring Extinct Tasmanian Tiger to Life

SYDNEY, Australia, May 28, 2002 (ENS) - The last Tasmanian tiger died in captivity in 1936, but biologists at the Australian Museum are working to bring the species back by cloning.

The Evolutionary Biology Unit at the Australian Museum in Sydney announced today that a scientific team has replicated individual Tasmanian tiger genes using a process known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Archer
Australian Museum Director Mike Archer contemplates preserved Tasmanian tiger pup. Australian Museum)
The Tasmanian tiger, or Thylacine, was a large carnivorous marsupial, also known as the Tasmanian wolf. The animal was sandy yellow-brown to grey in color and had 15 to 20 dark stripes across the back from shoulders to tail. The female had a back opening pouch in which she carried up to four pups.

At one time the Tasmanian tiger was widespread over continental Australia, extending north to Papua New Guinea and south to Tasmania. In the 20th century, it was seen only in Tasmania, but there have been no documented sightings for more than 50 years.

In 1999, DNA was extracted from a Tasmanian tiger pup sample preserved in ethanol. Additional DNA was extracted from two other individual pups in 2001. These other tissue sources included bone, tooth, bone marrow and dried muscle.

These polymerase chain reactions amplify millions of copies of the gene being studied. The PCRs show that short fragments of the DNA are undamaged and are in fact Tasmanian tiger DNA. Researchers say there is no reason why these should not work in a living cell.

Professor Mike Archer, director of the Australian Museum, is delighted with the progress of the cloning project. “This technique was an extremely critical step in producing sufficient amounts of Tasmanian tiger DNA to proceed with the research and extremely good news for future steps in accomplishing this project.”

Researchers will now attempt to make large quantity copies of all the genes of the Tasmanian tiger so these can be used to construct synthetic chromosomes.

tiger
Tasmanian tiger (Photo from "The Book of the Animal Kingdom," Westell 1910 courtesy Australian Museum)
The tissue collection of the Australian Museum was established in 1988. One of the largest in Australia, It now holds 26,000 tissues preserved at –80°C in ultracold freezers or in ethanol. In addition, the museum has a small Thylacine pup that was preserved in alcohol in 1866.

These new discoveries and the story of the Museum’s ongoing effort to clone an extinct species have been exclusively documented by the Discovery Channel in "End of Extinction: Cloning the Tasmanian Tiger." The program will be broadcast in 155 countries worldwide on July 7.

The latest breakthrough in the cloning project and a preview of select footage from Discovery Channel’s film was shown to reporters today at the Royal Botanic Gardens Restaurant in Sydney.

“What Professor Mike Archer and his team are attempting is as scientifically exciting and technically challenging as splitting the atom or landing a man on the moon,” said James Gibbons, vice president programming, Discovery Networks Asia.

The Discovery Channel film features never before seen footage of a Tasmanian Tiger as well as state-of-the-art computer generated imagery and animatronic technology.

The film includes footage of the extraction of Tasmanian tiger tissue, the processing of the DNA and the next steps of the genetic engineering which could make cloning the Tasmanian tiger a reality.



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Anonymous
PostPosted: 29-05-2002 11:40    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies. Some of the points about the dangers of cloning Thylacines are very strong and I think I'm being won over.
On the issue of Mammoths I don't believe that was really cloning, some mad scientist wanted to impregnate an Indian elephant with mammoth sperm, then use the offspring to do the same and so on. He thought you could get something that was about 93% mammoth. Of course he didn't seem to realise that every generation would be more inbred and less capable of having offspring. As for the notion that there are still a few Thylacine left, I believed that until last year when I saw a programme about it. It made the very good point that when a population gets below a certain level it becomes incapable of sustaining itself even if it isn't hunted, doesn't lose its habitat and doesn't catch any diseases. Within a few generations it would all be over and I think we have to accept that a few indivual animals may have survived for a while but at best the remnants of the species could have survived for a decade or two.
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PostPosted: 29-05-2002 15:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be interesting to know exactly the animal that they are going to gestate the thing in and where they get the mitochondrial donor. If there are any Thylacins really out there, could they reproduce with the result?
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 30-05-2002 00:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is scientific evidence to suggest that cheetahs were at some point of time reduced to only one breeding pair, which managed to reproduce and repopulate in their own little niche. It's been said that any two cheetahs are only as distantly related as cousins or something, but yet they manage to survive.

If they do manage to clone thylacines, they will most likely be gestated in tasmanian devils (one of the few other carnivorous marsupials around). Scientists can probably mix up the genetic contect of their DNA a bit, especially since they are taking DNA from several different thylacine specimens), so that they won't be too closely related. Or at least, that is the theory.

If they are successfully cloned, once their population size is up a bit and their life cycle has been studied etc., I would be interested to see if thylacines would be reintroduced into the environment. I mean, it would upset the ecology somewhat, but on the other hand it would mean the reintroduction of a natural predator which could help solve the problem of rabbits, foxes and other 'foreign' species to Australia.

Food for thought...
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rossba1Offline
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PostPosted: 30-05-2002 14:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

theres another thread on this in notes and queries if anyone wants more opinions on it. I dont think there has really been much of a breakthrough. I wholeheartedly agree with the principle of the project. Humans, and only humans are responsible for the creatures extermination (i think its extinct cos its a big critter and there has been not one recent roadkill or carcase found). It should be our responsibility as the only highly technological species on the planet to try and fix our mistakes. However cloning of individual genes id say is fairly basic. The breakthrough i guess is in getting genes that have not been actively replicating for 66 years to replicate again in a bacterial host. But genes are only a very small part of a genome.
30% of a genome is to do with proteins and related sequences. 20% of that 30% actually codes for protein =6% (the otherer 80% of 30% consists of regulatory enhancers, promoters, insulators, introns etc.). So if you isolate all the protein coding genes then that is only ~2% of the total genome. The most important determinants of how an organism ends up is the way it's coding genes interact with each other i.e. which common promoters are activated at what time and by which stimulus. In my opinion they should try and keep the genome as intact as possible and try to figure out ways to repair the damage of 150 years in alcohol rather than getting all the individual genes. Plastering over the cracks in a wall rather than taking it apart and trying to reassemble the bricks. At least another 20 to 30 years before we have any live Thyacines i reckon.
Ross
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 03-06-2002 23:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm just not as optimistic as you, Ross barndad. Twenty or thirty years? Maybe never! I've got an awful feeling that it's all just a fishing expedition by scientists who, given the current Oz government's short-sighted, unimaginative and mean approach to funding, are trying to drum up some interest from new funding sources.

Look, it'd be great for there to be thylacines in the bush again, but I remain profoundly sceptical that it is even a faint possiblility. There's just too many known difficulties and even more unknown ones, I'm sure.
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PostPosted: 15-06-2002 16:47    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was under the impression that Thylacines did in fact still live in parts of Australasia and S.E. Asia or are they just close relatives? Also the problems about Inbreeding and viable populations are not cut and dried, all the grey Squirrels in uk were supposed to be from a very small original population? The mixing of genes during reproduction may also be alot more controlled than we think, but that would probably start another thread on its own. Then there is also ingress of genetic material from divergent species through Viri and possibly bacteria and other sources. I have read that a small breeding population is possibly where major evolutions happen? Basically we know very little about what we are dealing with and cloning at present is stumbling around in the dark alot. trying to clone animals is bad enough but possibly acceptable if it saves it from extinction but some of these idiots want to clone humans!
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Anonymous
PostPosted: 17-06-2002 11:16    Post subject: Thylacine and cloning Reply with quote

There are absolutley no populations (that we know of) still in existence. The last was Tasmania, the species was wiped out in australia probably by Dingoes. But perhaps you are right on the issue of small populations, you've given me a little glimmer of hope. I also agree with you on the issue of cloning.
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PostPosted: 15-08-2002 17:13    Post subject: Thylacines and thylacoleos Reply with quote

Although I don't have anything to say at the moment about these two possible cryptids ( some people believe both these large Aussie carnivores might still survive ) it would be nice to be able to discuss them without without the thread unceremoniously disappearing after a lot of interesting discussion - or before it has even begun . So , any thoughts and links , post them here!
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