"Our findings are quite stunning," said Bradley, who also studies salmon, flounder and tuna. "The results have significant implications for commercial aquaculture and provide completely novel information on the mechanisms of fish growth. The results also allow for comparisons between the mechanisms of growth of muscle in mammals versus fish, and it could shed light on muscle wasting diseases in humans."
About 500,000 metric tons of rainbow trout are raised each year in aquaculture facilities in the United States and Europe. In the U.S., some 1,000 trout farms produce approximately $80 million of trout annually, mostly in Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania and California. Assuming Bradley's transgenic fish meet with regulatory approval, it could provide a boost to the industry by enabling aquaculturists to grow larger fish without increasing the amount of food the fish are fed.
"One of the advantages of this approach is that the modified genes introduced into the fish use the same mechanism and cause the same type of effect that occurs naturally in Belgian blue cattle and other 'double muscled' animals," said Bradley.
While the transgenic trout may look like bodybuilders, Bradley said they exhibit normal behaviors. He will continue to study the fish to learn if the new gene affects any other genes, and to determine if new husbandry practices will aid in the raising of the trout.
|Contact: Todd McLeish|
University of Rhode Island