News / Science & Technology

Genetically-Modified Rainbow Trout Could Boost Aquaculture

Comparing a standard grown rainbow trout (left) and a genetically-modified rainbow trout (right). Both fish are the same age.
Comparing a standard grown rainbow trout (left) and a genetically-modified rainbow trout (right). Both fish are the same age.

For many years millions of people around the world have been fed by genetically-modified crops.  Soon, some food animals will be genetically-modified as well, to be larger and grow more efficiently to feed a rapidly growing population.  
At a laboratory in Rhode Island, rainbow trout much larger than usual are already being produced.

The two rainbow trout (pictured above) are the same age and were raised in the same tank.  But the larger one has been genetically modified. 

"You can see this enhanced muscling and these are the parent stock,"  Professor Terry Bradley explained. Bradley leads the research at [the Department of fisheries and veterinary science at] the University of Rhode Island. "The other fish on the bottom, you can see it doesn't have the increased muscle mass.  So we know this fish has about 20 percent more muscle mass than the standard fish has."

The process starts in a laboratory.  Over the last four years, Dr. Bradley has injected 20,000 rainbow trout eggs with a DNA variation which inhibits a protein that restricts muscle growth.

"Each egg and the micro pump is set to deliver 5 nano-liters of DNA which you cannot see it.  We put dye in it, so all you see is this tiny little dot inside the egg, of green food coloring, and that's the only way you know it has been injected," he said.

In a normal-sized trout, a genetically-controlled protein called "Myostatin" keeps the fish from growing beyond a certain size.

Dr. Bradley's research shows that altering the gene that produces Myostatin seems to result in more muscle mass

"We inject them into the egg, so each egg gets injected with a little bit of DNA," he says, "and if you get lucky a bit of that gets incorporated into the genome of the developing embryo and that develops into a fish."

Once the eggs hatch they start their journey through a series of tanks in this aquaculture research facility.  But from all the thousands of injected eggs, only 300 fish so far have carried the modified gene.

The research will continue for a few more years before a larger and more efficiently-growing rainbow trout can move on to the commercial markets.  Bradley says the final goal is to increase the overall efficiency of aquaculture.

"For example where it typically may take 1.2 kilogram of feed to produce one kilogram of fish we hope that by inhibiting Myostatin we hope that one kilogram of food will produce one kilogram of fish," Bradley said.

Professor Bradley's study has been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

"The purpose of understanding muscle growth would be, first, to produce that muscle in a more efficient and more sustainable manner, that is to produce more meet for consumption with less input of resources, less energy, less feed, less labor input," stated Mark Mirando, who is with the Department's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

And perhaps, he says, with better taste or more nutrients. Worldwide, the fish most commonly produced through aquaculture are catfish and tilapia, both freshwater species.  But salmonid species like salmon and trout are rapidly becoming more popular in the industry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the value of aquaculture production rose to nearly $1 billion in the U.S.over the past 20 years, mostly due to growing demand for fish in general and harvesting restrictions on wild fish.
Mirando says the rapid growth of aquaculture is linked to population growth.

"The demand for seafood in the U.S. and worldwide is rapidly increasing but the ability of the oceans to supply that food, even at the current levels, disregarding population increases and increases in demand; the ability of the oceans to supply that is diminishing," Mirando said.

Mirando dismisses concerns about genetic modifications, pointing out that humans have already genetically modified many plants and animals through centuries of selective breeding.  The most common examples, he says, are dogs, which range in size from Chihuahuas to great Danes.

Comparing a standard grown rainbow trout (left) and a genetically-modified rainbow trout (right). Both fish are the same age.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid