The buffalo clone named Samrupa is the first time some animal has been cloned in India. ‘Samrupa’ is a Hindi word meaning some one who is exactly same as some one else. So, samrupa was exactly same as her mother buffalo. This is a milestone for Indian science and technology. Dr. S K Singla a scientist at the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana and his biotechnologist team had been working on the cloning of the calf for the last four years. This milestone came to Indian science 13 years after the first animal Dolly was cloned from her mother sheep. Samrupa’s mother is a one year old buffalo of the famous Murrah variety of Haryana that gives 35 Kgs of milk per day.
What is CLONING:
Reproductive Cloning. To clone an animal, researchers first take mature cells, such as skin cells, from the animal to be cloned. Next, they take an unfertilized egg from an adult female of the same species and remove the nucleus, which is the cell structure that houses the chromosomes that contain an organismâ€™s DNA. Researchers then place one of the skin cells next to the nucleus-free egg and apply an electric pulse, which causes the skin cell to fuse with the egg. The fused cell, which contains the skin cellâ€™s nucleus, divides and forms an early-stage embryo. This embryo is implanted in the uterus of another female animal, called a surrogate mother, and allowed to develop. The surrogate mother then gives birth to an animal that is genetically identical to the adult that donated the skin cells. This newborn animal is referred to as a clone.
What it means for Indian Biotechnology and Animal Husbandry
- Selection of high quality breed
Cloning can be used to breed and develop animals of better varieties in terms of different factors such as quality of products that can be extracted from them.
- Selection of disease free variety of animal
Husbandry animals are prone to many fungal, bacterial and viral diseases like FMDV(Foot and Mouth Disease Virus), Bird Flu(caused due to the Y5 virus) etc. Animals resistant to such diseases could be developed and bred so as to keep the animals healthy during their lifetime.
- Selection of high productivity animal
Animals with high productivity in terms of the amount of animal products such as milk, wool etc that can be got from them for commercial purposes can be bred keeping all their qualities and characteristics in the clones.
Animals that are used for carrying and pulling load such as Horses, Oxen, camels etc can be improved upon by cloning method.
Animals with specially extraordinary qualities such as winners of races, fighters, games etc can be cloned to get same characteristics in their clones.
- Animal of desired sex can be selected
We need more animal food products like milk, eggs, meat etc to fulfill the demand of the ever increasing population of the world. So, we need more female animals like cows, female buffaloes, hen etc.
- Animal milk with high nutrition value can be produced
Some special medicinal value proteins for human beings like Human Serum Albumin can be introduced into cloned varieties of cows to overcome the protein deficiency for kids in suffering from lack of mother’s milk.
- Animals with better skin quality can be used for good quality leather production
- Animals with useful protein and amino acid production can be generated
- Cloned animals can be useful for Xenograft tissue transplants e.g. Pig can be used for heart valve transplants, monkey for kidney and lung tranplants in diseased human beings.
What it means for preserving Biodiversity:
- Endangered species of animals like Indian Tigers, Leopard, Cheeta, Emu, White tiger, Red Panda etc can be reproduced in large number with their original characteristics.
- Ecological balance can be maintained
- Food chain system of environment can be balanced with producing cloned animals.
Cloning thus can be a boon for growing countries with high population density and third world countries where nutrition deficiency is wide spread among growing children, feeding mothers and the elderly.
Government agencies, NGOs and farmers should support the cause of cloning of animals of the best variety for the benefit of the society as a whole.