Research holds key for sav­ing en­dan­gered dog

Gatton Star - - LIFE INTO RURAL -

WITH din­goes on the cusp of be­com­ing en­dan­gered, the DNA of a 350-year-old dead dingo might hold the key to the na­tive dog’s sur­vival.

Dr Subashchan­dran S ankara sub ram an ian, a re­searcher from the Univer­sity of the Sun­shine Coast, will soon travel to the US to work on the DNA with sci­en­tists at the renowned Smith­so­nian In­sti­tute, af­ter be­ing awarded a $25,000 fel­low­ship from the Palaszczuk Government.

Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment and Sci­ence Leeanne Enoch said the Queens­land smith­so­nian Fel­low­ship Pro­gram presents re­cip­i­ents with a rare op­por­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate with lead­ing re­searchers at the world’s largest mu­seum and research com­plex.

“The fel­low­ship pro­gram has been run­ning since 2001, and each year we see re­cip­i­ents com­ing back to Queens­land with a wealth of knowl­edge to share and ex­pe­ri­ences to lean on, to the greater ben­e­fit of our state,” she said.

Dr S ankara sub ram an ian will look to se­quence the en­tire genome of the 350-year old dingo, with the in­ten­tion of us­ing the se­quence to iden­tify ge­net­i­cally pure din­goes.

“One of the big is­sues fac­ing the sur­vival of the species is their in­ter-breed­ing with do­mes­tic dogs. The sit­u­a­tion is so bad that we could very well see the loss of ge­net­i­cally-pure din­goes al­to­gether,” Dr Sankara­sub­ra­ma­nian said.

“Given this in­ter-breed­ing has hap­pened since Euro­pean set­tle­ment of Aus­tralia, how do you mea­sure a ge­net­i­cally-pure dingo? The an­swer is to go back be­fore set­tle­ment, and, for­tu­nately, our team has ac­cess to the bones of a 350-year old dingo, which pro­vides an ex­cel­lent base­line.”

Dr Sankara­sub­ra­ma­nian is one of three Queens­land re­searchers to re­ceive a Queens­land-smith­so­nian Fel­low­ship this year, the oth­ers be­ing Dr Ravi­nesh Deo from the Univer­sity of South­ern Queens­land and Pro­fes­sor Tr­ish Fitzsi­mons from Grif­fith Univer­sity.

USQ se­nior lec­turer and ap­plied data sci­en­tist Dr Deo plans to col­lab­o­rate with global ex­perts from the Smith­so­nian Trop­i­cal Research In­sti­tute work­ing on the Panama Canal Wa­ter­shed Ex­per­i­ment.

Through the de­sign of data mod­els that con­sider a for­est’s abil­ity to reg­u­late stream­flow, and pro­jected cli­mate ex­tremes, Dr Deo is help­ing sci­en­tists make ac­cu­rate pre­dic­tions around land-use im­pact in a fu­ture dom­i­nated by cli­mate change.

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