A Chicken-and-Egg First

Houbara-bustardIn “Ditto (Summer 2013), Emily Anthes recounted scientists’ progress in cloning endangered cats by using ordinary house cats as surrogates. In another step forward for wildlife reproductive technology, scientists at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai have successfully hatched a rare bird from the egg of a domestic chicken. (1) The researchers transferred embryos from the eggs of the threatened houbara bustard into chicken eggshells with either chicken or houbara egg whites (albumen). They successfully hatched two (of 26) houbara chicks from the chicken albumen, and one (of 18) from the houbara albumen. This technique of using a chicken egg as a surrogate could be used to help save embryos from eggs damaged in the wild. Cloning birds from genetic material alone remains extremely difficult, however.

(1) Liu, C. et al. 2013. Avian Biology Research doi:10.3184/175815513X13741514051732