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Genetics

DNA fingerprint analysis of a free-range koala population

Timms, P, Kato, J, Maugeri, M & White, N 1993, Biochemical Genetics, vol. 31, no. 9/10, pp. 363-374.

This paper presents the first detailed genetic study of a large group of wild koalas in Queensland using the DNA fingerprinting technique.

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DNA profiling of Queensland koalas reveals sufficient variability for individual identification and parentage determination

Cocciolone, RA & Timms, P 1992, Wildlife Research, vol. 19, pp. 279-287.

DNA profiling of captive and free-range groups of koalas in Queensland detected genetic variation and differentiated between individuals using restriction enzymes (Msp I and Bam HI) and M13 probe.  Specific DNA profiles were produced to identify individuals with an average genetic variation of 17%.  These DNA profiles can be used for exploring genetic relatedness and social structure in both captive and wild populations of koalas.

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Genetic diversity and gene flow among southeastern Queensland koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Fowler, EV, Houlden, BA, Hoeben, P & Timms, P 2000, Molecular Ecology, vol. 9, pp. 155-164.

The extraction of DNA among southeastern Queensland koalas showed significant genetic diversity between most populations indicating that these populations are most likely structured along matrilines, in which individuals are considered to belong to the same descent group as their mother. 

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Genetic diversity of Chlamydia pecorum strains in wild koala locations across Australia and the implications for a recombinant C. pecorum major outer membrane protein based vaccine

Kollipara, A, Polkinghorne, A, Wan, C, Kanyoka, P, Hanger, J, Loader, J, Callaghan, J, Bell, A, Ellis, W, Fitzgibbon, S, Melzer, A, Beagley, K & Timms, P 2013, Veterinary Microbiology, vol. 167, pp. 513-522.

The genetic diversity of Chlamydia pecorum strains in koalas has limited the production of an effective cross-strain vaccine. By examining C. pecorum isolates from koalas across their range, the most common major outer membrane protein (MOMP) amino type F was suggested to be a prime candidate for recombinant C. pecorum vaccine development.

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Low genetic diversity and inbreeding depression in Queensland koalas 

Worthington-Wilmer, JM, Melzer, A, Carrick, F, & Moritz, C, 1993, Wildlife Research, vol. 20, pp. 177-188.

  Analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of two Queensland koala populations reveals that genetic variation within and between these population is extremely low, though the variation appears to be structured geographically.  Furthermore, the analysis also shows inbreeding levels in a captive colony in one of these populations to be moderate and high, but koalas within this colony do not show strong evidence of inbreeding depression apart from the male-biased sex ratio.

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Molecular phylogenetics of the Diprotodontia (kangaroos, wombats, koala, possums, and allies)

Osborne, MJ, Christidis, L & Norman, JA 2002, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol. 25, pp. 219-228.

The evolutionary relationships of diprotodontid order marsupials (kangaroos, wombats, koala, possums and others) were analysed using ND2 mitochondrial sequences. The findings were also compared with 12S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences. Groupings of organisms descending from a common ancestor, or monophyly, were found for Burramyoidea, Phalangeroidea, Petauroidea, Tarsipedoidea, Macropodoidea and the Vombatiformes (wombats and koala) sub-orders and super-families. Discrepancies between genetic findings and current taxonomic ranks were found.

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Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA variation in populations of eastern Australian koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus

Fowler, EV, Hoeben, P & Timms, P 1998, Biochemical Genetics, vol. 36, nos. 11/12, pp. 381-393.

An analysis of molecular variation in eight eastern Australian koala populations showed greater genetic diversity in northern koala populations from New South Wales and Queensland than in southern populations from Victoria and South Australia.  Population differentiation was evident based on the presence of polymorphisms in fragments of DNA amplified using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) as molecular markers. The genetic variation between individuals was twice as variable for northern populations than southern populations.

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Retrovirus mutation rates and their role in genetic variation

Mansky, LM 1998, Journal of General Virology, vol. 79, pp. 1337-1345.

This study reviews information regarding retrovirus variation and the impacts it may have on the diversity and evolution of viruses, virus severity, pathogenesis, and the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines. The information produced by this study can be applied to koalas to increase our understanding of koala retrovirus, or KoRV.

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The dynamic interplay between genomic DNA and the outside world

Leitch, AR 2007, Heredity, vol. 98, pp. 61 – 62.

Exposure to the external environment has resulted in dynamic changes in the eukaryote genome, at a scale which has only recently been understood. In 2006, Tarlinton and colleagues postulated that the integration of a retrovirus into the koala genome occurred only within the last 100 years, which has led to retroviral endogenisation of some koala populations across Australia. This model provides further evidence that dynamism within the genome can be affected by the extra-genomic environment.

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The nucleotide sequence of koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) retrovirus: a novel type C endogenous virus related to gibbon ape leukaemia virus

Hanger, JJ, Bromham, LD, McKee, JJ, O’Brien, TM & Robinson, WF 2000, Journal of Virology, vol. 74, no. 9, pp. 4264-4272.

For the first time, the full nucleotide sequence of koala retrovirus (KoRV) is reported and characterised as a novel C-type endogenous retrovirus as a result. Phylogenetic analyses revealed a close genetic relationship between KoRV and gibbon ape leukaemia virus (GALV).

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Transspecies transmission of gammaretroviruses and the origin of the gibbon ape leukaemia virus (GaLV) and the koala retrovirus (KoRV)

Denner, J 2016, Viruses, vol. 8, no. 12, 336.

Koala retrovirus (KoRV) is closely related to gibbon ape leukaemia virus (GALV), and it is thought that they both originate from transspecies transmissions from the same host. Bats are discussed as a possible host of a retrovirus transmitted to gibbons and koalas as they could feasibly enter both gibbon habitats in Thailand and koala habitats in Australia and also carry several endogenous and exogenous retroviruses.

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