Scientists inject fish with alligator DNA to create mutated creatures that live longer
SCIENTISTS have put alligator DNA into catfish to make them live longer.
Millions of fish are harvested every year around the world, but nearly half die due to disease.
However, studies have shown that by the insertion of alligator genes turn into catfish, their chances of survival increase fivefold.
The gene, called cathelicidin, contains properties that protect reptiles from infection when they are injured.
Typically, farmers treat sick fish with antibiotics, but this contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
But now scientists at Auburn University in Alabama are fusing the DNA of the two species.
They have their detailed findings on the bioRxiv preprint server. The article has not yet been peer reviewed.
Scientists used CRISPR to insert the alligator gene that codes for cathelicidin into catfish.
It found that the survival rate of the genetically modified fish was resistance to a common infection.
The fish are also sterile and unable to reproduce unless injected with reproductive hormones, MIT Technology reported.
“By the pound, 60 to 70 percent of U.S. aquaculture is … catfish production,” says Rex Dunham, who works on the genetic improvement of catfish at Auburn University in Alabama.
But raising catfish is a great breeding ground for infections, but we may see less catfish deaths thanks to this new method.
In addition, breeding fish that are resistant to disease will produce less waste, aquaculture researcher Greg Lutz of Louisiana State University told MIT.
However, Lutz also pointed out that the CRISPR catfish may not be the future of aquaculture.
“It’s just too hard to produce enough of these fish to get a viable, genetically healthy line going,” he said.
There are over 3,000 catfish species in the world and most of them are bred for human consumption.
Their name refers to the prominent barbels, which resemble a cat’s whiskers.
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