Preserving frogs from extinction thanks to cryobanking

Australian frog cells have been successfully frozen and re-grown in culture, offering hope of a new technique to safeguard endangered amphibians.
In Australia, over 200 native species of frogs are currently recognised. But among them, 30 are presently listed as critically endangered or vulnerable. Four have been considered extinct since 1979.

In this context, University of Melbourne researcher Richard Mollard conducted work freezing and re-growing frog cells in culture, which could offer a new technique for safeguarding endangered species.

Dr. Mollard said: “Amphibian cell culture has only been achieved a handful of times in the world, with most cell culture focussing on mammalian cells. Freezing and subsequent culture of frog cells is even rarer. [...] We now have proof of principle that frog cells can be frozen, thawed and re-grown, while maintaining the structure of their chromosomes. [...] This is important because maintaining these genetic structures allows the cells to be used for assisted reproduction techniques if needed. That is, the cells can be used for exploring somatic cell nuclear transfer, or cloning, and gamete production for IVF."

According to Dr. Mollard, 950 amphibian species are currently at immediate risk of extinction. He added: “Unfortunately, there are currently only enough resources for captive breeding programs for 50 species. So cryobanking cells from the remaining 900 species could safeguard them before it is too late.”

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