With Only 3 Northern White Rhinos Left in the World, Scientists Are Turning to Stem Cells to Save the Species
Scientists hoping to save the critically endangered species, are turning to stem cells to aid reproduction. They plan to make stem cells out of adult rhino skin cells through a process called iPS, induced pluripotent stem cells. Lab-grown stem cells of this kind are pluripotent, meaning they can make any type of cell in the body. Scientists plan on creating northern white rhino sperm and egg cells with this method.
Those cells can then be combined to form embryos, a NowThis video reported. The formed embryos will be placed in a surrogate female northern white rhino, who will hopefully carry them to term. Scientists are not sure if this process will work, but its one of the last chances the northern white rhino has of avoiding extinction.
The use of the pluripotent cells will allow for the development of genetic diversity within the species, which is needed to reproduce in the future. DNA of a dozen northern white rhinos, which has been preserved in genetic banks in Berlin and San Diego, will be used in this project, according to the projects GoFundMe page.
Had to share this #beautiful #photo of a white #rhino calf. Have a lovely day rhino #friends. https://t.co/SUpuwoc5M5— Baby Rhino Rescue (@Baby Rhino Rescue)1465198038.0
The northern white rhino originally ranged over parts of northwestern Uganda, eastern Central African Republic, southern South Sudan and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Poachers reduced their population from 500 to 15 during the 1970s and 1980s.
From the 1990s through mid-2003, the northern white rhinos' population recovered, but not to original levels. By mid-2003 there were 32 animals in the wild. The population was then once again reduced by poaching until there were only 5 to 10 animals left in the world.
White rhinos are especially vulnerable to poaching because they are relatively unaggressive, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The last three northern white rhinos are watched 24/7 by guards. This rhino species cannot be found in any zoos.
A World Rhino Day reminder there's only one male northern white rhino http://t.co/AdLWbQl3Jd http://t.co/trUKENTlLa— The Independent (@The Independent)1442935207.0
As of 2011, the species is considered probably extinct. There have been no sightings of wild northern white rhinos since 2006.
Rhinos were hunted by poachers for their horns, which are used for many purposes. Powdered horn is used in traditional Asian medicine for illnesses from hangovers to cancer, WWF said. Horns are also in demand simply as a symbol of wealth in societies such as Vietnam. One kilo of rhino horn sells for $60,000 on the black market, according to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Southern white rhinos, the only other species of white rhinos, has rebounded significantly. WWF reports their population is 20,000 or more.
Watch this NowThis video for more information on the conversation efforts for the northern white rhinos:
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They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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