A study by Critically Endangered northern white rhinoceros — of which only three individuals remain — will reside with the genetic resources that have been banked at San Diego Zoo Global’s Frozen Zoo®. Frozen cell cultures housed here from nine northern white rhinos contain genetic variation that is missing in surviving individuals of this subspecies of rhinoceros, which is now extinct in the wild.reveals that the prospects for recovery of the
Tunstall, of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research — home to the Frozen Zoo — presented new genomic data at the Plant and Animal Genome Meeting (PAG XXV) in San Diego on Jan. 17, 2017, to evaluate the extent of genetic diversity in the Frozen Zoo cell cultures with that of the related subspecies, the southern white rhinoceros.
Last Hope for Crtically Endangered rhino species:
(Source: San Diego Zoo Safari Park YouTube channel)
Tunstall presented the complete genome sequences of four southern white rhinos and nine northern white rhinos. Genome-wide levels of genetic diversity and inbreeding in both southern and northern white rhinos were examined, in the hope of aiding future efforts toward genetic rescue and assisted reproduction. The recent population history and demography of these two white rhino populations also were examined, and potential regions under selection were identified in the northern white rhino suggesting local adaptation in this population. This may be the first example of a prospective analysis to determine whether sufficient genetic diversity exists for population recovery of any endangered animal. The southern white rhino experienced a severe population decline due to overhunting in the early years of the 20th century. Through careful conservation management, the subspecies recovered from a low of an estimated 30 to 100 individuals to a population in excess of 18,000 individuals.
(Source: San Diego Zoo Global news release via EurekAlert, 25.01.2017)