By Alice Marcondes
Brazilian scientists are attempting to clone animals in danger of extinction, like the jaguar and maned wolf, although the potential impact on the conservation of these threatened species is still not clear.
The cloning initiative is being undertaken by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, and is now in its second phase. The research is aimed at adapting cloning techniques to wild animal species as a means of contributing to conservation.
The first phase involved the collection of samples of genetic material, or germplasm, in the form of blood, sperm, somatic cells and umbilical cord cells.
“We already have 420 germplasm samples stored in our bank and are going to continue collecting,” EMBRAPA researcher Carlos Frederico Martins told Tierramérica*.
Eight animals have been chosen for the initiative, including the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). Most are on the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The samples were gathered over the course of two years. In addition to the three species mentioned above, the bank has also been stocked with germplasm from the bush dog (Speothos venaticus), coati (genus Nasua), collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla), gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira) and bison (genus Bison).
The researchers harvested the genetic material primarily from dead specimens of animals native to the Cerrado, the vast tropical savannah biome that stretches across central Brazil.
The next phase will be the training of researchers at the zoo.
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