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Genetics of the Camel Decoded

Meet Mozart, a Bactrian camel who provided the genetic raw material (just a blood sample, no harm came to him) for the work that has officially sequenced the genome of the camel.  Undertaken by Pamela Burger at the Institute of Population Genetics and researchers at the Vetmeduni Vienna, have made a significant contribution to population genetic research on camels.  The study has laid the foundation for future scientific work on these enigmatic desert animals. 

Pamela Burger heads one of the few research groups in Europe that study camel genetics. Burger and her colleagues are primarily interested in the domestication of camels, which took place around three to six thousand years ago.  The DNA code  represents a rich resource for addressing questions on phylogenetic relationships between animals. Burger is one of the first scientists to sequence large parts of the genome of a Bactrian camel and make it available to the public.

Until recently, the genetic code of the Camel had not been fully analysed. Genetic research on these animals was therefore difficult or even impossible. In contrast, the entire genetic information of the human genome was available as long ago as 2003 and the genetic code of various animals and plants is publicly available, giving researchers access to an enormous amount of data.

For example, the scientists were able to find genetic relationships between the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) and the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius); 85% of the genomic sequences expressed in the dromedary can also be found in the Bactrian camel.  Burger explains, “Mozart’s genome provides us with the basis for further comparative research on other camelids such as dromedary, lama and alpaca.”



To date, the lack of basic genetic data has severely hampered studies of camel genetics.  Pamela Burger and her team are pioneers in presenting this essential data set.

Happy Humpday (^_^)

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