Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Limited genetic diversity found in the extinct Tasmanian tiger

Date:
April 18, 2012
Source:
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)
Summary:
Scientists have now demonstrated that the Tasmanian tiger, also known as Tasmanian wolf or thylacine, possessed limited genetic variability prior to its extinction. This might have been caused by geographical isolation when Tasmania was isolated from mainland Australia 10-13 thousand years ago.

Tasmanian tiger.
Credit: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania

German scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and international colleagues have now demonstrated that the Tasmanian tiger, also known as Tasmanian wolf or thylacine, possessed limited genetic variability prior to its extinction. This might have been caused by geographical isolation when Tasmania was isolated from mainland Australia 10-13 thousand years ago.

The Tasmanian tiger, which looks like a wolf but evolved from a marsupial ancestor, has the unfortunate record of being the only species for which we know the exact date and time of its extinction. Despite numerous unconfirmed sightings and searches, no evidence of a living specimen has been found since the last captive animal died at the Tasmanian's Beaumaris Private Zoo in Hobart, Australia on the 7th September 1936.

It is clear that the Tasmanian tiger was practically hunted to extinction due to the imposition of a government bounty from 1888-1909. Yet, one question that has continued to puzzle biologists is how genetically diverse the thylacine population was prior to its extinction. A high level of genetic diversity is very important for populations to effectively adapt to shifting circumstances such as new emerging diseases.

Using a combination of traditional DNA sequencing methods and novel "next generation sequencing technology," a team of international scientists from Germany, the USA and Australia led by Dr Brandon Menzies from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and Professor Andrew Pask from the University of Connecticut (USA) demonstrated very limited DNA variability between individual thylacines. These findings were recently published in the journal PLoS ONE. The scientists compared mitochondrial DNA extracted from museum specimens that were 102-159 years old. The Tasmanian tiger specimens were more than 99.5% similar over a segment of DNA normally highly variable between individuals, and when comparing fragments of the whole mitochondrial genome, the sequences were more than 99.9% identical.

Given the recent finding of limited population diversity in the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), a close living relative of the Tasmanian tiger, these new data suggest that the genetic health of both the devil and the tiger may have been affected by the geographic isolation of Tasmania from mainland Australia approximately 10-13 thousand years ago. Future research should compare the genetic diversity of Tasmania's fauna with populations from the mainland to help protect them from extinction.

The research was supported by an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellowship to Dr Brandon Menzies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brandon R. Menzies, Marilyn B. Renfree, Thomas Heider, Frieder Mayer, Thomas B. Hildebrandt, Andrew J. Pask. Limited Genetic Diversity Preceded Extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (4): e35433 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035433

Cite This Page:

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Limited genetic diversity found in the extinct Tasmanian tiger." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418204351.htm>.
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). (2012, April 18). Limited genetic diversity found in the extinct Tasmanian tiger. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418204351.htm
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Limited genetic diversity found in the extinct Tasmanian tiger." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418204351.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Scientists Confirm Limited Genetic Diversity in the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger

Apr. 18, 2012 Scientists have confirmed the unique Tasmanian tiger or thylacine had limited genetic diversity prior to its ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins