Argentina advances in cloning of exotic species

Buenos Aires, Sep 14 (IANS) Argentinean scientists are working to preserve the planet’s bio-diversity by making advances in the cloning of exotic species such as the Asiatic cheetah, a species in danger of extinction.

“We are working on non-native species as a first step. Our main objective is to avoid the extinction of indigenous species, such as the jaguar,” Xinhua quoted Daniel Salamone, associate professor of agronomy at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) as saying.

The Buenos Aires zoo has a genetic data bank in which all of its species are preserved, both indigenous and exotic ones.

“We took frozen skin cells from that data bank to produce cheetah embryos. We were successful, making this a valid new cloning technique,” said Salamone.

This technique allows for the production of embryos with a great number of stem cells. The next step for the team will be to produce sperm and eggs from these cells.

Lucia Moro, a biotechnology specialist at UBA said her doctoral thesis is focused on the cloning process, particularly on the creation of eggs from cell cultivation.

“This project began with the cloning of domestic cats before we transferred the process to wild felines. So far, we have been successful with cheetah, tiger, and Bengal cat cells,” said Moro.

“We now believe this process is transferable to other feline species, as long as the genetic material is available and cells are in good condition.”

After 20 years, the genetic data bank has 6,500 samples from over 400 individual animals and covering 87 distinct species, making it the largest in Latin America.

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