Sinogene Biotechnology Company, a Chinese company specializing in the cloning of pets, announced the birth of the world's first cloned Arctic wolf by the name Maya.
First cloned wolf
A cloned wolf named Maya was born on June 10, but its existence was not revealed to the world until September 19 at a press conference in Beijing organized by the biotechnology company Sinogene.
The company usually uses the cloning of dead animals, such as cats and dogs, for private customers, but in the future the company would like to use its experience to cloning endangered species to preserve them. Maya's birth is not indicative, as Arctic wolves, as a species of gray wolves, are not threatened with extinction.
Maya was cloned using DNA taken from an adult Arctic wolf, also named Maya, who died of old age in captivity last year in a wildlife park in northeast China.
The genetics of the company originally created 137 embryos of the Arctic wolf by combining the skin cells of this male with the eggs of immature dogs, using a process known as the nuclear transport of somatic cells . Remember that dogs have enough common DNA with wolves to ensure successful hybrid pregnancy. Only one of these embryos developed completely during pregnancy.
Maya is now living with her surrogate mother in a lab in Suizhou, in the east of the country, and will later be transferred to the wildlife park along with other Arctic wolves, and Sinogene has also announced a new partnership with Beijing Wildlife Park to clone more species in captivity in the future.
The main advantage of cloning endangered species is that it preserves genetic diversity within the species. If these animals are able to reproduce with other non-clonized species, it will give endangered species a chance to adapt to pressures that drive them to extinction.
The cloning can also be used in combination with captive breeding programmes. Instead of taking wildlife animals to produce populations in captivity, researchers can only take genetic samples from these wild animals and then create clones. Then these animals can be inhaled into wildlife to supplement weakened populations.
Of course, cloning has some limitations. First, not all animals can be successfully cloned, especially birds, reptiles and other mammals who lay eggs because eggs do not develop properly in such an approach; the success rate is also very low compared to other approaches, such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization; researchers often have to create hundreds of embryos and use a few surrogate mothers to get one viable child, which still makes the process very expensive.