Thursday, March 11, 2010

Six-Pack Trout May Change Aquacultural Practices

In an article titled “Development of More Muscular Trout Could Boost Commercial Aquaculture” from, scientist from the University of Rhode Island (URI) have created a transgenic trout that shows increased musculature. Professor Terry Bradley, a professor of fisheries and aquaculture, has inhibited the protein myostatin which is responsible for slowing muscle growth in many animals. Similar transgenic species have been produced, such as cattle, which demonstrate far more muscle mass than wild type cattle.

The research team injected 20,000 rainbow trout eggs with DNA types that stop the protein from forming. Much to their surprise 300 of the fish (most of the original 20,000 eggs did not hatch at all) showed increased musculature. The fish seemed to have six-pack abs and large shoulder muscles.

The research team is excited about the findings as they can lead to more efficient aquaculture practices. Now instead of meeting the increasing demand for fish by producing larger numbers of fish in hatcheries, instead the fish can be genetically altered and more mass will be produced. Also, these fish do not require more food than wild type fish so more food will not need to be wasted.

In my opinion this is a great idea! Over 500,000 metric tons of trout are produced each year in aquaculture plants. These are closed systems that simply produce the fish then send them off for commercial uses. By making this process more efficient, the high demand of fish can be accommodated without being wasteful. If these fish were released into the wild, though, I would be more concerned because I am not sure how these larger fish will disrupt the ecosystem they are placed into.

Posted by Matt Grazewski (7)


  1. Absolutely, These fish could help relieve straining natural fish populations in the presence of increased seafood demands. If these fish were able to be marketed they would likely be raised in confinement as well as sterilized through triploidy or other processes.

  2. Muscular trout. Now that is funny, but very interesting. I don't know much about the production of food but I have heard of other organisms being genetically altered to increase things like the organisms size. So, now I'm wondering if all our food will someday come from genetically altered animals and plants to support the demand of our population. I also liked how you mentioned that if these trout were released into the wild a concern for the ecosystem would develop because when i was reading your post i didn't think of the impact it would have on the environment it would be in.

    Posted by Kayla Perry

  3. That is interesting. I wonder if this injection have any side effect on the animals. If it does have side effects like steroids, it would mean trouble for ecosystem. (That is if they were sent in the wild) If not, they would be one heck of a prey.

    Posted by Minwoo Ji

  4. Muscular genetic modification...this seems to be a bit strange. For one, why is it that they gain more muscle mass, but require no more food? Generally speaking there is a relationship with the two, that increased muscle mass-->higher metabolism-->more food needed for BMR. Also, do you think that people will want some sort of derived treatment, so they can "look fit" without all the work?

    posted by Chris

  5. Thanks for all the comments! I am going to attempt to address every one, but if there are further questions or ideas feel free to continue commenting.

    I did not consider that these transgenic fish could be sterilized so that if they were accidentally released into the wild, they would not be able to reproduce. Sterilization could prevent the mutant fishes from taking the wild type trout’s niche. However, even if the transgenic fish could not reproduce, they could still potentially wreak havoc on an ecosystem. They may not be able to reproduce but they still could out-compete certain organisms and alter the population sizes of other community members. One would expect that these ultra-fit fish would be able to quickly dominate all competition similar to a top predator. With this logic, one can understand how even sterile invasive species could negatively impact and ecosystem.

    As to the concern about the fish becoming larger and more muscular without consuming more food, the process is outlined in the article. Myostatin is the culprit protein in this experiment, which functions in humans, cattle, fishes, and many other organisms to limit the production of skeletal muscle. When this protein is reduced or destroyed the body is thought to react by converting fat into muscle and by directing more food energy toward muscle development. Myostatin treatment is used by some athletes to supplement muscle-building exercise, and many scientists are trying to cure muscular dystrophy with by inactivating the protein. I think this information begins to explain how the fish do not need more food, however I am still a somewhat perplexed by it all.

    Posted by: Matt Grazewski