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Scientists have implanted an alligator gene into a catfish

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The alligator gene was introduced by American scientists into the genome of the channel catfish. Thanks to him, the fish gained resistance to infections. Researchers ensure that genetically modified catfish are edible.

channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), also called catfish, is one of the most popular farmed fish species in the United States. However, it is threatened by numerous diseases – it is estimated that only 55 percent of the fry reach adulthood. To find a solution to this problem, scientists at the University of Auburn in Alabama turned to the amazing power of alligators.

Brave Gen

The study, the results of which were published in the journal “bioRxiv”, used the gene of the Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis). A fragment of the reptile’s genetic code was responsible for the production of cathelicidins – small proteins that help alligators heal wounds they incur in battle.

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Using CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering, researchers inserted the gene into the channel catfish genome. The experiment turned out to be successful – the modified fish had a survival rate of 100 to 400 percent higher than animals without genetic modifications.

Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) – pic. illustrativeAdobe Stock

“I would eat it in no time”

To prevent the accidental spread of the modified fish, the gene for the production of cathelicidins was inserted into the part of the catfish genome that is responsible for reproduction. Thanks to this, the modified individuals have become sterile – even if they escape from the experimental tank, they will not mix with wild populations. Genetically modified animals can only have offspring after giving them hormones that stimulate reproduction.

The researchers explain that the study is still in its early stages and stress that further tests are needed to ensure that the introduction of the gene will not cause other unforeseen changes in the fish genome. However, researchers ensure that the hybrid of catfish and alligator is safe for humans and tasty.

“I would eat it in a heartbeat,” said Rex Dunham, the study’s lead author.

phys.org, Business Insider

Main photo source: Adobe Stock

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