A team at Auburn University used genetic engineering to add the alligator cathelicidin gene to catfish, which increased the catfish’s health and reduced disease risk.
Microcidins, found in the gut, are antimicrobial peptides that help organisms fight disease. The gene was added using the genome-editing technique CRISPR, which boosts the catfish’s disease resistance compared to wild catfish. The researchers even noted that the modified catfish had “two to five times higher” survival rates.
The above fish has been genetically modified.
However, because the researchers added cathelicidin to the reproductive hormone gene, it also reduced the catfish’s fertility. This is thought to be important to prevent genetic contamination of wild catfish hybrids.
Although there is still some uncertainty about the use of CRISPR technology (used and studied primarily in mammals) in fish, researchers hope that alligator gene editing and catfish can be used in tandem with other breeding techniques to help farmers achieve higher yields. livestock production.
In 2021, the United States will produce an estimated 140,000 tons of live catfish. Catfish also account for more than 50 percent of the national demand for farmed fish.
But the process of caring for this creature is resource-intensive. Due to the lack of space in the farms where catfish are raised, diseases often spread among catfish. About 45% of fish species die from infectious diseases. Fish in general are also becoming more resistant to antibiotics.
While consumers may be uneasy about the idea of their catfish sharing genetic resources with American alligators, the researchers assured that the meat from the hybrid fish is completely safe.
“I’ll eat it right away,” promises one of the researchers.