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Sequencing the extinct

Scientists sequence Tasmanian tiger mtDNA and pave the way for others to harvest ancient DNA from moldering museum specimens

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Researchers have sequenced the mitochondrial genome of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, using museum-preserved tissue samples collected from some of the last remaining individuals.The mitochondrial DNA used to complete the analysis, which appears in the latest issue of __Genome Research__, came from hairs on a thylacine skin that had been stored at room temperature for more than 100 years and from a whole tiger preserved in ethanol since 1893.Pennsylvania State University geneticist linkurl:Stephan Schuster;http://www.cidd.psu.edu/people/bio_schuster.html led the study, and said that modern sequencing techniques enabled the researchers to harvest sufficient amounts of genetic material from the museum specimens. The researchers generated hundreds of thousands of short reads from the preserved materials using whole-genome shotgun sequencing. Schuster and his Penn State colleague and coauthor linkurl:Webb Miller;http://www.bx.psu.edu/miller_lab/ also collaborate on a project to harvest ancient DNA from extinct woolly mammoth bones, which often yield analyzable DNA due to the fact that their...



Video shows the last known motion picture footage of a living thylacine. Shot at the Hobart Zoo in 1933. Courtesy of linkurl:The Thylacine Museum;http://www.naturalworlds.org/thylacine/

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