In yet another scientific breakthrough, scientists at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) here have produced the world's first clone using cells of an adult buffalo.
Named Lalima, the 42-kg female calf is normal and responding well. It took birth on May 2 here from a surrogate Murrah buffalo through a natural delivery.
It is the seventh buffalo clone produced by NDRI.
Announcing the breakthrough on Monday, NDRI director AK Srivastava told Hindustan Times that scientists had used the institute's indigenously developed hand-guided cloning technique where somatic cells from an ear of a Murrah buffalo were taken to produce a clone.
Srivastava said that last year, a calf from the similar technique was produced but it survived only for 21 days. Since its birth, the calf was suffering from several ailments and died even before it was given a name.
Led by Suresh K Singla, a team of biotechnology scientists, including RS Manik, P Palta, Shiv Parsad and Basanti Jyotsana, were engaged in this successful experiment that lasted for nearly one year.
"It is for the first time in the world that a clone is produced from a high-milk yielding mature buffalo. Unlike, other clones produced by the NDRI scientists, Lalima did not show any symptom of abnormal calf. It was weighed 36-kg at birth time and its size was that of a normal buffalo calf," he said.
Scientists had taken donor cell from a Murrah buffalo from the institute's cattle yard.
Srivastava said that the achievement was disclosed only after National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) completed its comprehensive DNA profiling.
"It is done to maintain complete data of the given clone that further helps in improving a very tough science of cloning," he said.
Srivastava said that aim of buffalo cloning was to produce clone of progeny tested bulls and high-yielding lactating buffaloes.
He said that this technology could go a long way in multiplying the number of best milch buffaloes in India.
"Conventionally, when a sperm is fused with an egg, the offspring gets characters of both the parents. But with our latest technique, where somatic cells present in the ear were used, the clone will get genes of the female only," he explained.
"Though the world's largest population of buffaloes is in India and they contribute about 55% of the total milk production in the country, the percentage of elite buffaloes is very less and there is an urgent need to enhance the population of high milk-yielding buffaloes," he said.
Dr S Ayyappan, director-general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Science (ICAR), has congratulated the NDRI scientists for the latest cloning success.