Catfish Injected with Alligator DNA Could Live Longer, Experiment Demonstrates

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To extend the lifespan of catfish, scientists have injected alligator DNA into the fish.

Every year, millions of fish are caught around the world, but roughly half are killed by diseases.

Alligator DNA and Catfish Survival

However, research has shown that catfish’s chances of survival are five times higher when alligator genes are inserted into them.

The cathelicidin gene has characteristics that shield wounded reptiles from infections. Antibiotics are frequently used by farmers to treat sick fish, but this encourages the growth of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs.

However, Auburn University researchers in Alabama are now combining the DNA of the two species. The alligator gene which codes for cathelicidin was inserted into catfish using CRISPR technology. It was discovered that the genetically altered fish had a higher survival rate and were immune to a typical infection.

MIT Technology says that the fish are however sterile and unable to reproduce unless given reproductive hormone injections.

Catfish Farming

Rex Dunham, who works at Auburn University for the genetic improvement of catfish in Alabama, pointed out that Catfish production makes up anywhere between 60% and 70% of US aquaculture on a per-pound basis.

However, catfish farming is a major source of infections; as a result of this new technique, fewer catfish deaths may occur.

Additionally, according to Louisiana State University’s Greg Lutz, an aquaculture expert, raising fish that are disease-resistant will result in less waste. Lutz added that the CRISPR catfish might not be the aquaculture of the future.

He claimed that it is simply too challenging to produce enough of these fish to establish a strong, genetically sound line. He claimed that it is simply too challenging to produce sufficient numbers of these fish to establish a strong, genetically sound line.

There are more than 3,000 different species of catfish in the world, and most of them are raised for human consumption.

Their common barbels, which resemble cat whiskers, are what gives them their name, The US Sun reports.

Su and Dunham worked together with several colleagues to complete the paper that was eventually published in the bioRxiv preprint server.

Also Read: Germany Orders Shoot-to-Kill for Hybrid Wolf-Dog Pups to Protect Local Wolf Populations 

Human Consumption

The Auburn researchers are working to gain approval for their transgenic catfish so that it can be sold in markets and consumed. However, the process for that to happen might take a long time, as it did with other transgenics.

In the US, only one other variety of genetically modified fish has been approved. After 26 years, the manufacturer of the fish, AquaBounty, finally received FDA approval for the introduction of AquAdvantage salmon into the US market in 2021. The salmon are much larger than they would be without an additional gene that was spliced into the genome of another species of salmon.

Su and Dunham believe that even if the catfish is eventually permitted for sale, people will continue to eat the transgenic fish. According to Su, the protein produced by the alligator gene will not retain its biological activity once the fish are cooked, so it is highly improbable to have any negative effects on the person eating the fish. In any case, he continues, many individuals already consume alligator meat.

However, Lutz notes that some people might find it objectionable to eat a catfish with an alligator gene, MIT Technology reports.

Related Article: Team from China Uses Highly Controversial Animal Cloning Technique on Arctic Wolf 


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