Scientists set to try to resurrect Christmas Island mouse

Scientists are trying to resurrect the extinct species of mouse macleari rat. Originally from Christmas Island in Australia, it is believed to have died in the early 20th century, 119 years ago, due to illnesses brought by ships from Europe.

A team from the University of Copenhagen is studying the possibility of bringing the species back to life, and so far the results are promising. The group succeeded in obtaining the almost complete genome of the animal and discovered that it shares 95% of its genome with the rat (Rattus norvegicus)still alive.

This is the perfect case, because when we sequence the genome, we have to compare it to a very good modern reference.explains Mr. Thomas P. Gilbert.

Despite good sequencing, some smell-related genes are missing, which the authors say means that if the mouse were resuscitated, it would likely be unable to process smells the same way it did when it was resuscitated. alive. “With current technology, it may be completely impossible to recover the full sequence, and therefore impossible to generate a perfect replica of the Christmas Island Mouse., says the researcher. “We will never be able to get all the information to create a perfect shape salvaged from an extinct species. It will always be some kind of hybrid.

As such, although there is no perfect replica, the group seeks to modify the DNA, making the extinct animal functionally different from those living today. In science, Mr. Thomas P. Gilbert. explains that he will start with the species that are currently alive, changing that of the black rat (rattus rattus) for a rat (Rattus norvegicus)using CRISPR technology.

O article published in the scientific journal Current Biology.

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