The genetic modifications that improve animals for human consumption also could doom populations if released into the wild, according to a Purdue University research team.
Biologist Rick Howard and his colleagues have discovered a paradox that crops up when new genes are deliberately inserted into a fish’s chromosomes to make the animal grow larger. While the genetically modified fish will be bigger and have more success at attracting mates, they may also produce offspring that are less likely to survive to adulthood. If this occurs, as generations pass, a population could dwindle in size and, potentially, disappear entirely.
"Ours is the first demonstration that a genetically modified organism has a reproductive advantage over its natural counterpart," said Howard, a professor of biological sciences in Purdue’s School of Science. "Though altering animals’ genes can be good for humans in the short run, it may prove catastrophic for nature in the long run if not done with care. And we don’t know just what kind of care is necessary yet, or how much."
Chad Boutin | Purdue News
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