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Resurrecting Genes

June 10, 2008

Genes from an extinct Australian marsupial have been revived in a living mouse.


Reviving genes from lost species. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists have recovered DNA from all sorts of extinct animals. Now, scientists in Australia and Texas have taken it up a notch, by actually turning one of those genes on. University of Melbourne molecular biologist Andrew Pask and his colleagues transplanted a gene from an extinct marsupial called the Tasmanian Tiger into a living mouse.

ANDREW PASK (University of Melbourne):
And then we looked to see exactly when this gene was switched on during development, and in which tissue it was switched on in. And it’s the first time anybody’s taken DNA from an extinct species, and actually brought that DNA back to life.

Although the Tasmanian tiger has been extinct for only a century, Pask says the technique should also work on prehistoric DNA. If so, it could help scientists understand the biology of all kinds of lost species. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.