DNA testing kits are helping humans discover more about their family’s ancestry and their genetic profile. This science is also assisting animals to be saved from illegal hunting efforts and treatable diseases.
A growing number of examples are demonstrating that the investments in this approach can offer profound dividends. DNA testing for an infectious respiratory tract disease in gopher tortoises helps researchers to find the animals that have resistance to the condition. That makes their breeding program more effective.
Identifying genetic variants can also help wildlife managers understand how diseases spread. That could help people to identify options that could be available for managing the condition.
Genetic Assessments Can Target Problematic Harvesting
Knowing where individual animals originate is hugely beneficial to wildlife conservation and management. Researchers can take DNA samples from stock populations of cod from throughout the North Atlantic to identify fishery activities. This work can identify illegal fishing, which is almost impossible to do without direct observation without this information.
We can also use DNA information to identify risk factors in dogs and other species by comparing genetic variations in individuals with or without a specific condition.
This work can even support improvements in biodiversity. The chytrid fungus impacts global amphibian populations, so the testing can identify species that have resistance. Issues like chronic wasting disease in deer and white-nose syndrome in bats can also get detected with this process.
As we discover the benefits of genome testing, it will fuel improvements in this technology that make it even more cost-effective to study animals. Although the challenges may be many, the investment we make today can prevent extinctions tomorrow.