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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Protect forest elephants to conserve ecosystems, not DNA

Although it is erroneously treated as a subspecies, the dwindling African forest elephant is a genetically distinct species. New University of Illinois research has found that forest elephant populations across Central Africa are genetically quite similar to one another. Conserving this critically endangered species across its range is crucial to preserving local plant diversity in Central and West African Afrotropical forests--meaning conservationists could save many species by protecting one.

New genetic engineering method indispensable biotechnological tool

New method of genetic engineering indispensable tool in biotechnological applications

Research by Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Huimin Zhao and graduate student Behnam Enghiad is pioneering a new method of genetic engineering for basic and applied biological research and medicine. Their work, reported in ACS Synthetic Biology on February 6 [DOI:10.1021/acssynbio.6b00324], has the potential to open new doors in genomic research by improving the precision and adherence of sliced DNA.

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Desert elephants pass on knowledge—not mutations—to survive

Despite reported differences in appearance and behavior, DNA evidence finds that Namibian desert elephants are not a subspecies, but rather another population of African savanna elephants in Namibia. However, Namibian desert-dwelling elephants should be protected so they can continue to pass on their unique knowledge and survival skills to future generations.

Mitochondrial DNA Ties Ancient Remains to Living Descendants

Study of Mitochondrial DNA Ties Ancient Remains to Living Descendants

Researchers report that they have found a direct genetic link between the remains of Native Americans who lived thousands of years ago and their living descendants. The team used mitochondrial DNA, which children inherit only from their mothers, to track three maternal lineages from ancient times to the present.

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