26 Jan 2019

Peter White - Taking a genetics fight to the Aussie cane toad

From Saturday Morning, 11:07 am on 26 January 2019

Australia's famous invader, the cane toad, has hit the headlines lately. Senator Pauline Hanson proposes putting welfare recipients to work killing the toads, while Queensland MP Bob Katter wants to arm children with air rifles and pay them 40 cents for each toad they bring in. Since its introduction into Queensland in 1935, the cane toad has spread widely and now occupies more than 1.2 million sq km of Australia. It is fatally poisonous to predators such as the northern quoll, freshwater crocodiles, and several species of native lizards and snakes. Professor Peter White from the University of New South Wales has lead a project which successfully cracked the genome of the cane toad - an advance he hopes will reveal the cane toad's ability to rapidly evolve, as well as help scientists hunt for viruses that attack only toads.