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Thursday, July 4, 2013

altering germ line - 3 parent babies..... hybrid animals ~ birth of Liliger...

These adorable cubs look very normal……… but they are too special..

This week has seen more news of the therapy under which a small part of a mother's genetic material is swapped with that of a healthy donor to eliminate the risk of passing on a host of hereditary diseases to her child. It is stated that by removing faulty DNA from the mitochondria, which is always inherited from the mother, experts believe the child and future generations could be spared from a collection of devastating conditions affecting the heart, muscles and brain. 

In UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised the government that there is “general support” for the treatment and there is no scientific evidence to suggest it is unsafe. There of course are ethical concerns about the process and the very thought.  So Britain could become the first country to permit three-parent babies.  The HFEA, is believed to have suggested that if they do legalise the therapy, donors and patients should remain anonymous and have no right to contact one another. Such a therapy could alter the human germ line and claims to liberate the future generations from devastating conditions. The technique involves removing the nucleus from an unfertilised egg, or from the bundle of mother's and father's nuclear DNA after fertilisation, and implanting it into the shell of a healthy donor egg.

Besides the ethical concerns, there is the potential to limit the engineering to a single generation by only offering it for male embryos ~ and would such a gender selection harm the society badly is also a matter of grave concern.  Also about the relationship ~ a  donor would have no more right to claim parenthood than someone who gives blood.

Away in animal kingdom, here are some tiny cubs which look very similar to cats – they are not and they are too special.  In biology and genetics, the term hybrid has several meanings, all referring to the offspring of sexual reproduction. In general usage, hybrid is synonymous with heterozygous: any offspring resulting from the mating of two genetically distinct individuals.  This does not occur generally but is not known to be extremely rare too….

Sure we know Lions, Tigers, Cheetahs, Leopards, Panthers and more…. heard of Tigon, Ligers an the like….. Tigon is a sterile hybrid cross between a male tiger (Panthera tigris) and a lioness (Panthera leo).[ It has parents with the same genus but of different species. The tigon is not currently as common as the converse hybrid, the liger. Tigons will have the characteristics of both biological parents – they can have spots from mother and stripes – also the mane of the father.  The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion (Panthera leo) and a tigress (Panthera tigris).

Liger is reported to be much bigger than its parents, largest of all known felines; enjoy swimming ~ a trait of Tigers and are sociable like lions.  Ligers exist only in captivity because the habitats of the parental species do not overlap in the wild. Historically, when the Asiatic Lion was prolific, the territories of lions and tigers did overlap and there are legends of ligers existing in the wild.  According to experts, Lions and tigers are separated by about seven million years of evolution, "but they are still closely enough related that they can hybridize."

While zoos in some countries do cross-breed cats (probably for the publicity value), most famous zoos may not.  There are some associations which do not approve of such hybrid methods and instead focus only on wildlife-conservation programs. Anyway, there are Ligers and they do grow very fast ~ by 3 years of age they can weigh over 320 kg. A liger in Miami called Hercules is the biggest cat in the world. He weighs over 410 kg.

If that was confounding, here comes the news of Liliger – not one but three of them born at a zoo in Novosibirsk, Russia. As you could make out from the name – liliger is hybrid of a lion and a liger. In a Zoo in Novosibirsk, Russia,  Zita a liger gave birth to three adorable liliger cubs.  They look like tigers but are liligers.  They are not first – as it is stated that the first was born in the zoo last year and now there's a second litter of three, all of them females. Their mother, Zita, was born in the zoo in 2004. Their father, Sam, is an African lion.

Zita, the liger with her liliger cubs 

Liger was the offspring of Lion with Tigress; Liliger is the offspring of Lion and liger.  Confounding ………..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

News collated from various sources; photo courtesy : Daily Mail UK

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