EDGE Community

Project information

[Project name/title]
The WCPF sponsored DNA Testing Project - China and Mongolia

[Project description/overview]

China and Mongolia

Project type:

Relevant EDGE species:
Bactrian Camel (Camelus ferus)

Project members:
Wild Camel Protection Foundation

Relevant species
13. Bactrian Camel (Camelus ferus) CR

Fewer than 1,000 of these two-humped camels survive today in one of the most hostile regions on earth.

[Relevance description]
To determine the genetic status of wild and captive camels with specific identification of hybrid camels
Project summary
Wherever and whenever possible the WCPF has been assisting and supporting the genetic work of Dr Chris Walzer from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna and Dr. Pamela Burger from the Institute of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria and her doctoral student Katja Silbermayr. Katja Silbermayr completed her doctoral thesis on the 'Genetic diversity an introgression in the Mongolian wild Bactrian camel' in February 2006 and was able to present preliminary results about the mtDNA CR to the International Workshop of Conservation and Management of the wild Bactrian Camel held in Ulaan Baator from 12 to 14 October 2006 which was funded by the WCPF and the UNDP.

Katja Silbermayr found a fixed nucleotide difference between the domestic and the wild Bactrian camels. This means that all wild Bactrian camels have a T (Tymin base - the DNA consists of 4 bases: A-Adenin, T_Tymin, C-Cytosin and G-Guanin) at a certain position in the mitochondrial DNA and all domestic Bactrian camels have a C. This is a molecular marker which the scientists had been seeking, because by looking at this specific position in the mtDNA you can tell, if the Bactrian camel is wild or domestic. It can also be ascertained whether a hybrid had a domestic or wild dam.

There is a proposal to establish the origin and domestication of the Bactrian camel. This would be undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Han Jianlin of the Beijing Genomics Research Institute in China and would involve the collection of hair samples from China, Iran, Pakistan - the known distribution areas of Bactrian camels. Dromedary camel samples would also be included in order to study the relationship between Bactrian and Dromedary camels.

There is another group working on the genetics of wild and domestic Bactrian in Beijing under Dr. Han Jianlin and at the Inner Mongolian Agricultural University with a few samples from wild Bactrian camels.

It is essential for future international cooperation between Mongolia and China on wild Bactrian camel conservation that research is based on profound data including genetics, ecology and habitat research. To further this, Dr. Han Jianlin has published an article about the mitochondrial DNA of the wild and the domestic Bactrian camel in both Mongolia and China.
Project members

The Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF), is an international organisation devoted solely to the protection of the wild Bactrian camel

[Member role description]
Associated Blog Posts
27th Mar 12
The only true wild camels that still exist are Bactrian camels (Camelus ferus). This species can survive in one of the most hostile environments on Earth, th...  Read