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Korean researchers decode genome of red bats

Posted July. 13, 2017 07:17,   

Updated July. 13, 2017 07:36

Korean researchers have become the world’s first team to decode the genome of the red bat, also known as the golden bat in Korea. The study discovered why these animals are almost extinct. Researchers have found that red bats failed to adapt to the interglacial period and the number of animals continuously decreased over the last 50,000 years. In Korea, red bats are designated as the first-class endangered species and natural monument No. 452. Only about 450-500 animals have been identified in Korea.


Professor Park Jong-hwa and his research team at the School of Life Sciences of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) borrowed DNA samples extracted from a red bat found dead in the Gosu Cave in Danyang, North Chungcheong Province. The genome contains a record of genetic diversity that changes in the course of evolution, and the study found that the population of red bats started decreasing from 50,000 years ago just before the interglacial period. It is deemed that the amount of generic information correlates to a size of population.


“The red bat population shrank drastically as they failed to adapt weather changes in the interglacial period," researcher Park Yeong-joon said. "Moreover, they became endangered due to habitat destruction with the emergence of modern humans 10,000 years ago."

UNIST researchers have found a gene resistant to toxic arsenic, providing a clue to red bat’s survival in a cave heavily contaminated with metals. They have also found the genetic sequence for red hairs. The study was published in the U.S. online journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) ONE, on July 5.