Buffalo might have been driven almost to extinction by overeager Americans, but now we have a chance to redeem ourselves—by genetically engineering new ones. Thanks to a team of scientists in India, we can add buffalo to the list of animals that have been cloned—including a camel, a wolf and, of course, the legendary sheep.
Scientists at India’s National Dairy Research Institute, in the Indian state of Haryana, produced the first cloned buffalo back in February, using DNA from the ear of an adult female—though unfortunately, it died of pneumonia soon after its birth. Now, they’ve tried again, resulting in a 95-pound female calf named Garima. She got her start from fetal tissue, according to a report released yesterday from India’s National Dairy Research Institute. The team also used a cloning technique that allowed them to choose the gender of the calf.
Scientists say that being able to clone buffaloes could make it easier to breed “elite” animals; in other words, they could increase the number of animals with desirable traits, such as size and temperament. Maybe cloning could yield heartier buffalo that are less prone to extinction—although that’s hardly a problem in India, which has the world’s largest buffalo population. It seems more likely that the nation, which uses buffalo to produce meat and milk, would engineer the animals to produce tastier food.
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Image: flickr / mandj8