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An extinct animal about to make a comeback?  A research group recovers RNA from a museum exhibit

An extinct animal about to make a comeback? A research group recovers RNA from a museum exhibit

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Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo, Tasmania, in 1928. The last specimen died in 1936 – the so-called Tasmanian tiger became extinct. (Archive photo) © IMAGO / imagebroker

Museum exhibits may be more interesting to research than expected: researchers have successfully extracted RNA from a long-extinct animal.

STOCKHOLM – Previously, research assumed that RNA would be destroyed within days if it was not kept cold and protected from enzymes that could destroy it. But this is clearly not entirely true, because otherwise it would be impossible to explain what the research team is doing In the specialized magazine Genome research Describe. The team led by Emilio Marmol (Stockholm University) successfully isolated and sequenced RNA from a long-extinct animal.

The strangest thing: the remains of the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus)) They have been kept in the Stockholm Museum since 1891 – at room temperature. From the animal’s muscle and skin samples, the research team was able to isolate millions of RNA sequences and use them to obtain information about the animal’s genes and the proteins created in the animal’s cells and tissues.

A research group collects RNA from an extinct animal at the museum

“This is the first time we have gained insight into the presence of thylazine-specific regulatory genes, such as microRNAs, which have been extinct for more than a century,” says co-author Mark Friedlander in a report. notice.

Efforts are underway to bring the Tasmanian tiger back as its habitat in Tasmania remains largely intact. However, research requires not only DNA, which contains the genetic code of the genome, but also ribonucleic acid (RNA), which transmits and translates information stored in DNA. It is also responsible for regulating gene activity.

Tasmanian tiger/marsupial wolf

The Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was a marsupial that was widespread throughout the Australian continent and Tasmania. After European colonization, the animal was declared an agricultural pest and a bounty was placed on its head. The last Tasmanian tiger died in a Tasmanian zoo in 1936.

The Tasmanian tiger has been extinct since 1936

“Reviving the Tasmanian tiger or woolly mammoth is not a trivial task and requires extensive knowledge of the genome and transcriptome regulation of these iconic species, which are only now beginning to be known,” explains Emilio Marmol, lead author of the study.

The Tasmanian tiger, or Tasmanian tiger, has been extinct since 1936. (Archive photo)
The Tasmanian tiger has been extinct since 1936. (Archive photo) © IMAGO/H.Tschanz-Hofmann

The study shows that museum exhibits are still interesting for current research. “In the future, we may be able to obtain not only RNA from extinct animals, but also the genomes of RNA viruses such as Sars-CoV2 and their evolutionary precursors from the skins of bats and other hosts stored in museum collections,” says the participant. “. Author Love Dalén, gives an outlook. (unpaid bill)