SNIFFING OUT A DISCOVERY: Australia's dingo population, including the small group on Fraser Island are currently experiencing significant losses in population.
SNIFFING OUT A DISCOVERY: Australia's dingo population, including the small group on Fraser Island are currently experiencing significant losses in population. Alistair Brightman FRA090411ding

Science competition could unlock key to Dingo survival

THE team working to save the Dingo population on Fraser Island has thrown its full support behind an international science competition that could hold the key to the species' ongoing survival.

One of five finalists in the World's Most Interesting Genome Competition, Australian scientists are hoping to study and sequence the genome of a dingo pup named Sandy.

Winners will gain access to Pacific Biosciences SMRT grant, which would provide $13,000 to complete their research.

What makes Sandy a rare and exciting find for researchers is that she's a wild-born pure bred dingo, a rare find where cross-species breeding is prevalent.

Put to a public vote, the crux of the research (if successful) would be to determine the long-suspected theory that dingos are the evolutionary link between wild wolves and domesticated dogs.

A wild dingo, therefore, presents the perfect test subject to examine this theory.

The research could also potentially determine the genetic causes that would turn a "wild animal” into the "perfect pet”.

"If funded, this project would allow us to better understand the DNA changes between wolves and domestic dogs for the first time,” said Prof Bill Ballard from the University of New South Wales, one of the principal investigators of the project.

"It's an important step in identifying and potentially preserving an iconic species that has been shown to presereve biodiversity by maintaining native ecosystems.”

Tests would also allow researchers to determine and distinguish pure-bred dingos from dingo-dog hybrids, in an effort to keep the species alive and thriving.

It's for these reasons the team at Fraser Island Dingos Inc have passionately encouraged the local community to vote repeatedly so the project succeeds.

As it stands, it's currently neck and neck with an opposing team working to gain a better understanding of the Temple Pitviper's venom, which in turn could further medicinal research.

"Please keep voting and sharing with any groups who support the dingo,” the SFID wrote to their supporters.

"The snake is currently ahead and Sandy needs a good margin to win.”

Those interested in voting for this breakthrough dingo research to become a reality should head to the SFID's Facebook page for more info.

Voting for the competition closes on April 5.

Gympie Times


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