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Startling Wild Camel Genetic News

Dr Pamela Burger and Katja Silbermayr from the Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria have undertaken genetic and DNA research on the wild Bactrian camel This was organised by Dr Chris Walzer, formerly the director of Salzburg Zoo, who is now the Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarian at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.

The interim results of their work are very encouraging. Here are comments from a recent informal report given to the WCPF by Dr Pamela Burger:

The genetic work on the camel is not completed yet, it is now starting to become interesting. Katja found in her baccelor work two fixed differences between the wild and the dom estic Bactrian camels. That means we can now distinguish between them very exactly and even find a hybrid camel in a group of wild camels – If the =2 0 MOTHER was domestic Bactrian.

The differences are in the mitochondrial DNA , which is transferred only from the MOTHER to the offspring. For example, if a wild bull takes a domestic female into the wild herd, we can find them and their offspring.

We followed the maternal lineage until now and Katja is now starting to investigate the nuclear DNA (genes of mother AND father) with micro-satellites. With these nuclear DNA ana lysis we can investigate the degree of hybridization and the genetic diversity of the Mongolian and the Chinese wild Bactrian camels. She will do this for her doctorate over the next 3 years.

This is a highly significant statement and is of immense value to our work.

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