Pask, Andrew J. Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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- Genome sequencing
- Assisted reproductive technologies
- Genetic variation
- Suitable habitats
- DNA age limits
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The science of restoring an extinct animal or plant using advanced genetic and reproductive technologies. The concept of de-extinction was science fiction until the recent advent of advanced genome sequencing platforms. The technological breakthroughs provided by these platforms opened the door for the sequencing of even highly damaged deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) fragments from very old specimens and enabled the sequencing of the Neandertal and mammoth genomes. Both sequencing projects provided enormous insights into the biology of these species and sparked numerous ancient-DNA explorations in samples of other extinct species. Some of the most highly discussed candidates for de-extinction include the mammoth (Fig. 1), Tasmanian tiger (thylacine; Fig. 2), bucardo (Pyrenean ibex), passenger pigeon, dusky seaside sparrow (Fig. 3), and Australian gastric-brooding frog. Although sequencing the genomes of each of these species has been done or is an achievable goal, there is a huge gap—and one that science has yet to bridge—between defining the genome of an extinct animal or plant and restoring that species to the realm of living organisms. See also: Ancient DNA; Biodiversity; Biotechnology; Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); DNA microarray; DNA sequencing; Extinction; Extinction (paleontology); Genetic mapping; Genomics; Mammoth cloning and de-extinction; Neandertal genome; Neandertals; Speciation; Species concept; Thylacine genetics; Zooarcheology
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