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The last hopes were pinned on four white rhinos.
European biologists have created the first hybrid embryo of the extinct white Rhino, combining their sperm and egg from meeting their usual African relatives. The results of the first experiments with these embryos was published in the journal Nature.
This writes with reference to .
“In the near future we are planning to go to Kenya to retrieve the eggs from the bodies of two female Northern white rhinos. They will allow us to create “clean” the embryos of these animals. Then we do the same procedure, using eggs and sperm grown from “reprogrammed” stem cells of these animals,” said Thomas Hildebrandt (Thomas Hildebrandt) the Leibniz Institute in Berlin (Germany).
The emergence of new DNA sequencing technologies, cloning and cell reprogramming have opened up new opportunities for salvation while already extinct or endangered animal species. As scientists hope samples of tissues of such animals will help a modern or future environmentalists to revive these species and restore their populations.
For example, in 2011 scientists from the SCRIPPS Institute in La JOLLA (USA) created the first stem cells of the extinct Northern white rhinos and endangered species of baboons-drylaw using samples of their frozen tissues. These experiments gave hope that biologists will be able to turn such cells into full-fledged embryos of extinct animals.
Hildebrandt and his colleagues have taken the first step to put these plans into action, creating the first viable embryos of the extinct Northern white rhinos, the last of which individuals live their lives in zoos in Asia, Africa and other continents of the world.
In the early 20th century their population numbered approximately three thousand individuals. Predatory hunting and civil war in Central Africa has led to the fact that by the beginning of this century their numbers in the wild fell to three dozen rhinos. The last of them died in 2008, which marked the failure of all attempts by environmentalists to restore their population in a natural way.
The last hopes were pinned on four white rhinos, two males and females living in zoos and nurseries in the United States, the Czech Republic and Africa. Males died suddenly in 2015, resulting in a “men’s line” white rhinos have completely disappeared. Females were transported from the zoo to Kenya, where they now live under round the clock protection.
When the Rhino died, Hildebrandt and his colleagues drew from their bodies the testes and froze them, hoping to save germ cells in order to use them in the procedure of artificial insemination.
To do this, as shown by further experiments, it was not so easy as it looks — all three of rhinoceros, whose genetic material was able to save was enough older animals, and their sperm was originally in very poor condition. In addition to this, later scientists found that their gametes were defective and could not penetrate the egg by themselves.
In solving these problems has helped technology created by Italian biologists for artificial insemination of horses. Using these gadgets and techniques, Hildebrandt and his colleagues recovered the egg of the southern white rhinos from the bodies of several female”donors”, and introduce them to the nuclei of the sperm cells, treating them with powerful, but short current pulses.
Only a year ago, after two years of unsuccessful experiments, biologists managed to find the right combination of such techniques, which led to the successful fusion of gametes and formation of the blastocyst is the first stage of development of the embryo, where it is already possible to return to the womb of the animal.
In total, Hildebrandt and his colleagues created four hybrid embryo, the Northern white Rhino — two males and two females. They were all frozen and, as scientists hope, will soon be implanted into the body of the surrogate mothers from the number of southern white rhinos.If these experiments will be completed successfully, then the scientists will remove the egg from the body of the last two representatives of this subspecies, fertilizes them and try to extract embryonic stem cells from them. They, like their “reprogrammed” cousins hopes ecologist, will help scientists to quickly restore the population of these rhinos.