Gas station without pumps

2011 January 18

Bring back the mammoth!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:46
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According to Daily Yomiuri Online, scientists aim to bring mammoth back to life.

The plan is to extract mammoth DNA from frozen mammoth cells and put it into elephant eggs. I wonder how much damage the DNA of the mammoth cells has taken. Does the genome need to be repaired before putting it into elephant egg cells? They claim “Iritani’s team devised a technique to extract the nuclei of eggs—only 2 percent to 3 percent are in good condition—without damaging them.”

I wonder how well growing a mammoth fetus in an African elephant will work. Have they even managed to clone an elephant? Can they get successful gestation between different extant elephant species?

According to Cristian Capelli, Ross D.E. MacPhee, Alfred L. Roca, Francesca Brisighelli, Nicholas Georgiadis, Stephen J. O’Brien, Alex D. Greenwood, A nuclear DNA phylogeny of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Volume 40, Issue 2, August 2006, Pages 620-627, ISSN 1055-7903, DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.03.015, mammoths are more closely related to Asian elephants than to either Savannah African or Forest African elephants.  So why are they planning to use an African (presumably Savannah African) elephant as the egg donor and host mother?  Availability of donor eggs from a dead zoo elephant perhaps?  In fact, the phylogeny given in that paper suggests that mammoths are closer to Asian elephants than either is to the African species, so choosing an African elephant as the host and egg donor makes even less sense to me.

I think that they need to do a bit more experimenting with existing elephant genomes before they try mammoths.

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