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Online tool speeds response to elephant poaching by tracing ivory to source

November 8, 2019

A new tool uses an interactive database of geographic and genetic information to help authorities quickly identify where the confiscated tusks of African elephants were originally poached.

Developed by an international team of researchers, the Loxodonta Localizer matches genetic sequences from poached ivory to those stored in the database. It relies on genetic information from a small, highly variable region of mitochondrial DNA from African elephants.


November 8, 2019


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Ancient virus defends koalas against new viral attacks

August 8, 2018

The human genome is riddled with endogenous retroviruses – little pieces of degraded and generally harmless retrovirus DNA passed down through the generations, along with our own genetic information. Because most endogenous retroviruses have been part of our DNA for millions of years, scientists can’t explain how they went from their virulent, disease-causing forms to the inert bits of “junk DNA” most of them are today. A new study published today in the journal PNAS looks to koalas for an answer.


August 8, 2018


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Protect forest elephants to conserve ecosystems, not DNA

April 25, 2018

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.


April 25, 2018


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Humans are Sumatran rhinoceros’ biggest threat—and last hope

April 20, 2018

The little-known and smallest member of the rhinoceros family, the Sumatran rhinoceros, is critically endangered. Today between 30 and 100 are isolated on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Southeast Asia. In a new study, researchers urge conservationists to translocate the two island groups—representing two subspecies of the Sumatran rhino—and to create a cell bank to preserve the genetic diversity uncovered by this work.


April 20, 2018


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