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Australia's koalas, their very existence imperilled by disease, bushfires, car strikes, and dog attacks, face a more hopeful future thanks to scientists cracking its genetic code, a study said Tuesday.A mammoth effort by more than 50 researchers in seven countries uncovered 26,558 koala genes, yielding vital DNA clues for vaccines against diseases such as sexually transmitted chlamydia, which blinds the cuddly critters and leaves them infertile.From between 15 and 20 species some 30 to 40 million years ago, a single species of koala survives in Australia today -- some 330,000 individuals in all, most living in protected areas.The new study identified genes responsible for liver detoxification that likely permitted koalas to become such dietary specialists, thus avoiding competition for food with other animals.The koala genome is bigger than the human genome, with about 20,000 genes.
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