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Премия рунета 2017

Science protects the Amur tiger

05 september 2018
The scientists from the Russian Far East first in the world determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial DNA of the wild Amur tiger. DNA testing was carried out by a group of scientists under the supervision of Dr. Schelkanov with the support of WWF Russia, the Primorsky Province Hunting Department and the Amur Tiger Center.

Blood samples were taken from a wild female tiger captured in Lazovsky District, Primorye, in December 2016. The procedure was carried out during veterinary examination in the Rehabilitation Center “Tigr” in the village of Alekseevka. All samples were placed in the Bank of biological materials of protected animals and plants, which is currently being created in Vladivostok by several environmental organizations. Later, the blood samples were passed to the laboratories observing all necessary formalities.

June, 2017: Dr. Schelkanov is taking blood samples from the tigress from Lazo
Yulia Fomenko / WWF Russia
“At the moment we are handing over the nucleotide sequence to the GenBank International Database for preservation, comments Mikhail Schelkanov. Apart from this sequence, four more complete mitochondrial genomes of the Amur tigers are known in the scientific literature. They were studied by our international colleagues. Three of them were determined for the tigers kept in the zoos. In the fourth case, the authors stated in the headline that the tiger under research was wild but the article provided no proofs that the tiger found dead in Mishan, China, was really a wild tiger and not from a “tiger farm”.

In May 2018, the tigress from Lazo was released into the wild with her “friend” Saikhan. According to the specialists, who continue monitoring animals’ movements and behavior, the tigers perfectly adapted to their new environment and keep hunting successfully.   

For the moment, the tigress that now is settling down in Evreiskaya Province is the only wild Amur tiger in the world with the known complete nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial genome.

The Rehabilitation Center "Tigr"
“Determination of the complete nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial DNA of the wild Amur tiger is an important scientific result, which among other things may help us in the field work during investigation of criminal cases and conflict situations. Before that, unfortunately, this process was not functioning well because it was organized far away from the Far East. Of course this is only the first step and many things have to be done: we should provide the Bank of Biological Materials with needed equipment and spell out the rules of the Bank operation,” comments Pavel Fomenko, head of rare species conservation unit of WWF Russia Amur branch, Honored Conservationist of Russia.

The research was carried out by the group of scientists including the representatives of the Federal Scientific Center of Biodiversity of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Far Eastern Federal University and the Biology Department of Moscow State University.

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