October 13, 2008

Giant Panda Genome Sequenced

The genome of the giant panda has now been sequenced, thanks to Chinese scientists. It's an achievement which may aid efforts to protect the endangered species, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Researchers may also be able to explain the panda's low birth rates and help them to have more cubs by understanding their genetic make-up, said Wang Jun, a scientist at the Beijing Genomics Institute.

"By sequencing the giant panda genome we've laid the genetic and biological foundation for us to gain a deeper understanding of the peculiar species," said Wang, whose institute played a major role in the International Giant Panda Genome Project.

The project found evidence to support the theory that giant pandas might be a subspecies of black bear, according to Xinhua.

The research was launched in March of this year.

Wang said research of the genome could also help efforts to control disease and ailments among pandas.

Scientists say less than 2,000 giant pandas now live in the wild in China.


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