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News Article

Scientists aim to revive extinct steppe bison in Siberia

Russian and South Korean scientists are planning the world's first cloning of a Canadian wood bison before attempting to re-create the extinct steppe bison.

Remains of a tail of an ancient steppe bison were recovered from Siberian permafrost in the Sakha Republic, in the basin of a river known as Indigirkai in August 2016. Scientists are now planning to use the tail in order to obtain DNA for use in their cloning work.

Dr Semyon Grigoryev, the director of Mammoth Museum at the North-Eastern Federal University, who leads the project, told the Siberian Times that the tail was probably over 8,000 years old, but that more tests are needed to date the discovery.

Scientists are currently working on cloning a Canadian wood bison for the first time, using a cow as surrogate mother. If they succeed, they will show that inter-species cloning is possible; this is crucial to bringing ancient species back to life as scientists would have to use surrogate mothers from modern-day species.

“We decided to use a cow as a surrogate mother. Our Korean colleagues already have an experience of cloning cows. And it will not affect the results much. If the experiment will be successful, we will get 99.8% newborn bison", Dr Grigoryev was quoted as saying.

"It is very important for our project on cloning ancient animals to overcome the species barrier. Our Korean peers have already done crossbreed cloning, but no one yet did cross species cloning. The success of inter-species cloning can give us hope for the revival of extinct animals and preservation of endangered species", according to Dr Grigoryev.

The researchers are also formulating hypotheses about what might have happened to the steppe bison to which the tail belonged to. It is likely that the rest of the body was eaten by predators. "Judging by the gnawed base of the tail, the bison could have been the victim of predators, like cave lions or cave bears", Grigoryev was quoted as saying.

The teams from the Mammoth Museum of the North-Eastern Federal University, Yakutsk, and Dr Hwang Woo Suk's Sooam Biotech laboratories in Seoul are co-operating on a number of other cloning projects, including the ultimate objective of restoring the woolly mammoth to its native Siberian habitat.  Some cloning options are likely to involve surrogate mothers from different species, for example the expected use of elephants to incubate the returning mammoth.

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • M Djuric, DVM
  • Date
  • 02 December 2016
  • Source
  • agencies, Siberian Times
  • Subject(s)
  • Animal breeding and genetics