De-extinction efforts are being directed at reviving lost bird species

greater prairie chicken
The pinnated grouse, the heath hen's closest living relative. Credit:

While efforts are underway to bring back extinct mammals, such as the woolly mammoth and quagga, through cloning, artificial insemination, and a breeding process that aims to revert domesticated species to phenotypes that closely resemble their wild ancestors, birds’ reproductive systems are not as amenable to these techniques.

So scientists are turning to cultured germ cell transmission, a promising technique that has been used to propagate gene-edited domesticated chickens for more than a decade. The idea is that genes from extinct birds could be replicated and introduced into host embryos’ germlines.

The first step in [nutritional biochemist Rosemary] Walzem’s attempt to bring back the heath hen was establishing a breeding population of pinnated grouse at Texas A&M. The pinnated grouse has much the same morphology as its smaller, extinct cousin, and though it’s disappeared from much of its pre-Columbian range, it can still be found in 10 states. After a successful transfer from a breeder to their new enclosure at Texas A&M, a flock of eight birds produced 66 eggs during the last mating season in 2020.

Related article:  Exploring the science and mystery of dreams
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

If what ultimately hatches in Walzem’s lab truly replicates the heath hen remains to be seen. Epigenetics and the environment will also play critical roles in its conditioning and survival. And to make any conservation effort stick, humans must be better stewards of the bird’s habitat.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: How dangerous COVID mutant strains develop

Infographic: How dangerous COVID mutant strains develop

Sometime in 2019, probably in China, SARS CoV-2 figured out a way to interact with a specific "spike" on the ...

Philip Njemanze: Leading African anti-GMO activist claims Gates Foundation destroying Nigeria

Nigerian anti-GMO activist, physician, and inventor pushes anti-gay and anti-GMO ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend