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Transgenic Atlantic salmon Can Breed with Wild Brown Trout and Pass the Genes: Research

May 29, 2013 16:41 IST

Scientists from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada in their new study highlighted the potential risks that the genetically modified fish could escape in the wild. It was discovered that it was possible for the transgenic Atlantic salmon to cross-breed with the brown trout, which is its related species.

The transgenic Atlantic salmon fish have been created with extra genes that allow them to grow more rapidly and the fish can pass on the trait of growing faster to its hybrid offspring as well. The transgenic Atlantic salmon fish is created by biotech company AquaBounty. AquaBounty declared that the risks of all kinds were absolutely negligible and that all these fishes were female as well as sterile. Also, the company announced that the habitat of these fishes would be tanks on the land.

The transgenic Atlantic salmon fish at present are being assessed by US authorities. These fishes are the first GM animals in the world that are approved for the purpose of human consumption.
In wild, the transgenic Atlantic salmon fish occasionally start mating with the brown trout and successfully produce the offspring. However, the researchers discovered that in the laboratory these genetically modified salmon were able to do the same.  Out of 363 fishes analysed in the beginning of the experiment, around 40 percent of hybrids were found carrying modified genes. It was also discovered that just like the transgenic Atlantic salmon fish, the young fish were also able to develop very rapidly.

Dr Darek Moreau of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada declared that under the hatchery conditions, these transgenic hybrids were able to grow at a faster pace than the wild salmon, wild-type hybrids as well as the wild trout.

When these fishes were placed in mocked-up stream in laboratory, it was found that hybrids out-competed the wild salmon as well as genetically modified salmon.

The study highlighted ecological consequences in case the genetically modified fish got into the wild. The US Food and Drug Administration at present, is at its final stage of considering whether this transgenic salmon should go in the market on sale or not.

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