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Two transmissible cancers in Tasmanian devils

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Tasmanian devils are marsupial carnivores endemic to the Australian island of Tasmania. Tasmanian devils are considered endangered due to the emergence of a transmissible facial cancer that is spread between animals by the transfer of living allogeneic cancer cells by biting. This cancer, known as Devil Facial Tumour 1 (DFT1), was first observed in 1996, and has spread through devil populations across most of the island. In 2014, a second transmissible facial cancer, DFT2 , was observed in devil populations in Tasmania’s south-east. Considering the rarity of transmissible cancers in nature, it is surprising to find two transmissible cancers in the same species. We have reconstructed the genomes of both DFT1 and DFT2 , and are using these to understand the origins and evolution of transmissible cancers in Tasmanian devils.

This talk is part of the Computational and Systems Biology series.

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