Wildlife officials hope that having the genome of the Sumatran rhinoceros will aid captive-breeding efforts, the Malaysian Star reports.
It notes that the highly endangered Sumatran rhinoceros suffers from a number of health issues in captivity, such as iron overload disease and reproductive tract problems. Researchers from Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sabah Wildlife Department, the Danau Girang Field Center, and the Borneo Rhino Alliance sequenced DNA isolated from the blood of Tam, one of three Sumatran rhinoceroses living in captivity. They also collected blood from the female rhinos, Puntung and Iman, as well as from Gelugob, who died in 2014.
"Identification of candidate genes and mutations will enable comparisons to human counterpart diseases, thereby leading to a better understanding of the causes and consequences of these diseases in rhinoceroses," Love Dalén from SMNH tells the Star. "We can then directly apply this information to captive breeding programs and rhino management with the hope of saving this species from extinction."