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Transgenic fish could threaten wild populations

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STORY AND PHOTO CAN BE FOUND AT: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html4ever/0002.Muir.trojan.html

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of Bill Muir with a tilapia, a farm-raised fish which will be the next subject of a similar, larger-scale study, is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu or at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/. It is called Muir.trojan. Copies of the journal article are available from Muir, (765) 494-8032; bmuir@purdue.edu.

Sources:
Bill Muir, (765) 494-8032; bmuir@purdue.edu

Rick Howard, (765) 494-8136

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University researchers have found that releasing a transgenic fish to the wild could damage native populations even to the point of extinction.

A transgenic organism is one that contains genes from another species. The Purdue research is part of an effort by Purdue and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assess the risks and benefits of biotechnology and its products, such as genetically modified fish. The study was published in November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Purdue animal scientist Bill Muir and biologist Rick Howard used minute Japanese fish called medaka to examine what would happen if male medakas genetically modified with growth hormone from Atlantic salmon were introduced to a population of unmodified fish. The research was conducted in banks of aquariums in a laboratory setting.

The results warn that transgenic fish could present a significant threat to native wildlife. "Transgenic fish are typically larger than the native stock, and that can confer an advantage in attracting mates" Muir says. "If, as in our experiments, the genetic change also reduces the offspring's ability to survive, a transgenic animal could bring a wild population to extinction in 40 generations."

Extinction
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Contact: Frank Koontz
fkoontz@uns.purdue.edu
765-494-2080
Purdue University
24-Jan-2000


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