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Determining Platypus Relationships

NJ Gemmell, TR Grant, PS Western, J Walmsley, JM Watson, ND Murray, JAM Graves

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In the summer of 1990-91 the first captive breeding of platypus (Omithorhynchus anatinus) in 47 years, and only the second ever, occurred in a small resident population at Warrawong Sanctuary, South Australia. DNA fingerprinting and analyses employing the maternally inherited mitochondrial genome have been used to determine family relationships within this population Using hypervariable DNA sequences cloned from other species to probe blots of DNA from the Warrawong platypuses, individual-specific banding patterns have been observed that allow the identification of family relationships within the population. A novel method for detecting maternal relationships within platypus populations, based on polymerase chain reaction analyses of the highly polymorphic mitochondrial control region, is also presented.