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Rare sheep cloned from dead donor. (Biology).

With DNA from recently dead animals, an international team has cloned an imperiled species.

The unveiling of a mouflon sheep clone "is the first report of a dead cell used for cloning," says Pasqualino Loi of the University of Teramo in Italy.

Herds of rare wild mouflon sheep, Ovis orientalis musimon, are shrinking on their native Mediterranean islands of Sardinia, Corsica, and Cyprus. When two ewes died at a wildlife rescue center in Sardinia, the staff sent tissue to Loi and his colleagues.

The scientists substituted nuclei from cells of the mouflon ewes for nuclei in egg cells from a domestic sheep. Out of 23 substituted eggs, seven developed enough for transfer to surrogate domestic sheep mothers. In the summer of 2000, one ewe delivered a mouflon lamb. The researchers announced their success in the October NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY.

Loi and his coworkers welcome the lamb as the first viable clone of an endangered species. An American team cloned a rare wild ox called a gaur last year (SN: 2/10/01, p. 95), but the calf died from a common disease within a week of birth.

Regardless of which team proved the principle first, advocates of cloning rare animals contend that such measures add a useful tool to the options for saving species. --S.M.
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Oct 20, 2001
Words:215
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