Researchers in Philippines claims they are close to creating world’s first clone of a water buffalo. They could eventually raise the productivity levels for millions of farmers.

“The aim is to replicate a super buffalo that would boost the genetic make-up and milk production of the native water buffalo, the carabao,” said Dr Libertado Cruz, executive director of the government-run Philippine Carabao Center.

“We are now in the process of transferring the cloned embryos to a surrogate dam (mother),” he told Reuters on Friday. “By the middle of next year we can expect some live animals.”

Brazil has created clones of cattle, including an endangered cow species earlier this year. Cruz said researchers at the center had created the embryos by fusing genetic material from somatic cells taken from a Bulgarian water buffalo’s ear with the eggs of local carabao.

The Philippines has imported about 3,500 Bulgarian buffalo, which are descendents of a high-yielding Murrah breed from India, Cruz said.

“In India, where the animal numbers around 98 million, I have seen some animals producing 35 liters per day,” he said. “I would consider these animals as the super buffalo, but they are not so many.”

Cruz said “the plan was to obtain enough sperm from cloned male super buffalo to start a widespread insemination program in the Philippines that would create higher-yielding carabao.”

Link [go.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=scienceNews&storyID=9736987&src=rss/scienceNews]