Researchers are working hard to understand Devil Facial Tumor Disease, a fatal condition in Tasmanian Devils.This is a rare but highly contagious facial tumour which can spread between the devils through biting.
Their quest led them to perform skin grafts from several devils to ascertain whether low-genetic diversity in the species made them prone to cancer.
During this exercise, researchers found that Devils' immune system rejected the skin grafts, showing that the genetic diversity was much more than what was expected.
"We know that the devil has a lack of genetic diversity, so our hypothesis was that there's insufficient diversity for devils to recognize foreign tissue. So if that lack of diversity was really severe you would not get rejection of the graft. The graft was rejected nicely showing that devils do have enough diversity to recognize foreign tissue," researchers said.