Elizabeth Ann, the black-footed ferret, has arrived. Using conserved cells from a long-dead wild animal, scientists successfully cloned an endangered black-footed ferret. The clone was given a chance to breed and carry on its species.
Cloning is the process of reproducing an organism by extracting its genetic material (deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA) and using it to make more of itself. Cloning has many possible applications, including breeding genetically identical animals for research or conservation purposes. In this case, the goal was to create ferrets with no immune systems or feet so they could live in captivity and be studied.
The first cloned mammal was Dolly the sheep, who was born in Scotland in 1996. Since then, other mammals have been cloned including mice, rats, cows, and pigs. In 2014, a team led by Ian Wilmut and Kathy Sykes announced that they had cloned a ferret named Elizabeth. Like Dolly the sheep, this ferret had her DNA extracted from an adult cell sample and used as template material for making more ferrets.
Here's how the process works: First, skin cells are removed from the animal and placed in a solution called "renaturation medium".
CHEYENNE, WYOMING — Scientists have cloned the first endangered species in the United States, a black-footed ferret, from the DNA of an animal that died more than 30 years ago. Cloning has the potential to resurrect extinct species such as the passenger pigeon...
Cloning involves taking cells from an organism and multiplying them in culture (in laboratory conditions). The resulting cells are called "clones", and they contain the complete genetic code of the original organism. A clone can then be grown into an entire animal, which is genetically identical to the donor cell.
In this case, the team used cells from eight different ferrets, each representing one of the four subspecies of black-footed ferrets. The team also used cells from two other mammals: mice for comparison, since they are related to ferrets; and rabbits for their large offspring size, which would allow them to carry more clones.
The team grew these cells in petri dishes with special nutrients to encourage growth. They also injected some of the cells with sperm from another ferret to help them grow even more. Finally, the team placed some of the cells under the skin of immuno-suppressed mice. It takes about a month for the cells to grow into full animals, at which point they were able to live out their natural lifespan of about five years.
Dolly was cloned from a cell extracted from a six-year-old Finn Dorset sheep's mammary gland and an egg cell derived from a Scottish Blackface sheep. On July 5, 1996, she was born to her Scottish Blackface surrogate mother. She was the first mammal to be produced by cloning and the first animal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell.
Cloning is the process of creating an identical copy of a living organism. The term may also refer to the result of this process, which is another identical copy of the original organism. Clones can be biological (derived from cells of one individual) or artificial (made from materials other than tissue). Natural clones include pygmy mice, primate fetuses, and chicken eggs. Artificial clones include human beings and many other animals.
Biological cloning is the process of producing genetically identical organisms from single cells. A scientist takes a small sample of skin or blood from the donor organism and divides it into several pieces to allow it to grow more quickly in the laboratory. The cells are placed in special containers called "vitrifiers" where they are kept alive until enough have grown to be transplanted into another organism, usually a younger version of the original donor.
Dolly, a six-year-old Finn Dorset sheep, was cloned from a cell extracted from her mammary gland and an egg cell derived from a Scottish Blackface sheep. She was given the name "Dolly" after Molly Maguire, an Irish peasant who was executed in 1849 for killing a man during a robbery.
Cloning is the process of reproducing cells or whole organisms from one generation to the next. This can be done either by nuclear transplantation, where the nucleus of an adult cell is transferred into an enucleated ovum, or via cloning machines which copy DNA directly from one cell to another. Nuclear transfer cloning involves removing the nucleus from an adult cell, mixing it with an ovum whose own nucleus has been removed, and returning the mixture to the donor animal to develop it into a embryo. The embryo then needs to be implanted into the recipient female so that it can grow up to be a clone of its original parent.
Nuclear transfer cloning has been used to produce animals such as Dolly the Sheep, Snuppy, Lilo the Lioness, and others. However, this technique is not very efficient because only about one in five embryos produced by this method will survive long enough to become live births.