International project to preserve genetic resources of birds

The support is provided by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the Science and Innovation in East Asia Consortium. Kazan Federal University's partners are Mahidol University and Kumamoto University.

The first stage of the research is expected to take three years and involves pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Recent advancements in stem cell technology can revolutionize preservation efforts, which is especially pertinent with regards to endangered species.

Head of Extreme Biology Lab Oleg Gusev explains:

One of the birds' specific traits is that they can suspend embryogenesis is the environmental temperature is too low. This hints to the existence of a very intricate mechanism of influencing the organism via the temperature regimen. To understand this is a very interesting scientific objective. Such sharp temperature shifts don't harm bird embryos, unlike other warm-blooded animals, and results of such research can help optimize the long-term preservation of reproductive cells."

As he emphasizes, producing reproductive cells from iPS is one of the most practical topics in this particular research area. In the case of birds, this has not yet been well developed. Methods of production of iPS for several bird species can lead to creating biobanks of stem cells for further gametal cell production.

The project will draw from the already existing databases, such as an atlas of expression of regulatory genome elements in bird embryos, co-created by Kazanian and Japanese scholars.

In this particular case, the Japanese side will work on reprogramming species-specific cells, the Thai side will extract cells of rare species, and Kazan Federal University plans to analyze the genomes in the process of cell reprogramming and to study genetic mechanisms of suspended embryogenesis.

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