CCMB breakthrough in genetic inbreeding of threatened species

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Hyderabad: The Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) said Thursday it has shown that preventing genetic inbreeding of highly endangered wildlife, one of the biggest challenges in wildlife conservation, can be achieved, as she did with pygmy pigs. The miniature wild pigs, numbering just 300, are only found in Manas National Park in Assam. Efforts have been made since 1996 to increase their numbers through captive breeding as part of a collaborative project with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the IUCN / SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group, Forestry Department of Assam, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, EcoSystems-India and Aaranyak.

About 500 pygmy pigs have been bred to date and all of those born in captivity are the descendants of seven wild miniature pigs.

“One of the major challenges of long-term captive breeding programs is to maintain genetic diversity within a population, over several generations. The loss of genetic diversity could be due to inbreeding due to mating, ”the CCMB said in a press release.

A study by CSIR-CCMB-LaCONES and the Pygmy Pig Conservation Program, led by Dr G. Umapathy of LaCONES, which examined genetic changes in 36 pygmy pigs raised in captivity over eight generations, found no evidence overall genetic inbreeding.

“This is made possible by careful selection of mating pairs that share the weakest parentage. But recent generations show a slightly increased kinship. We therefore recommend that you introduce a few wild individuals into the breeding pond, ”said Dr Umapathy.

“This is the first such study in Indian animals to understand the genetic effect of long-term captive breeding of endangered animals. These results will guide the management and optimization of breeding protocols in similar conservation breeding programs, ”according to CCMB Director Dr Vinay K Nandicoori.

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