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.

Related Articles


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 November 28, 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 November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
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

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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