Two decades of the impact of Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD)
Woods, GM and Fox, S and Flies, A and Tovar, CD and Jones, M and Hamede, R and Pemberton, D and Lyons, AB and Bettiol, S, Two decades of the impact of Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), Integrative and Comparative Biology, 58, (6) pp. 1043-1054. ISSN 1540-7063 (2018) [Refereed Article]
Copyright The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.
The Tasmanian Devil, a marsupial carnivore, has been restricted to the island state of Tasmania since its extinction on the Australian mainland about three thousand years ago. In the past two decades, this species has experienced severe population decline due to the emergence of devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), a transmissible cancer. During these twenty years, scientists have puzzled over the immunological and evolutionary responses by the Tasmanian devil to this transmissible cancer. Targeted strategies in population management and disease control have been developed as well as comparative processes to identify variation in tumor and host genetics. A multi-disciplinary approach with multi-institutional teams has produced considerable advances over the last decade. This has led to a greater understanding of the molecular pathogenesis and genomic classification of this cancer. New and promising developments in the Tasmanian devilís story include evidence that most immunized, and some wild devils, can produce an immune response to DFTD. Furthermore, epidemiology combined with genomic studies suggest a rapid evolution to the disease and that DFTD will become an endemic disease. Since 1998 there have been more than 350 publications, distributed over 37 Web of Science categories. A unique endemic island species has become an international curiosity that is in the spotlight of integrative and comparative biology research.