Research holds key for saving endangered dog
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.