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Fish Research Aims to Help Native Population

by Ellen Hardy
30 November 2007, at 12:00am

US - The location of the fish must remain secret to guard against opponents of animal cloning.

Tucked away in a basement somewhere on WSU’s Pullman campus is a small concrete room holding thousands of juvenile rainbow trout.

The young trout are nurtured until they are about four inches long at which time they are transferred to another location on the outer edge of campus. There they live out their lives as the focus of genetic research led by Gary Thorgaard, professor and director for the School of Biological Sciences Center for Reproductive Biology.

Thorgaard’s research involves identifying parts of the rainbow trout genome that code for specific traits in the fish.

“We want to understand the nature of differences from one population to another,” Thorgaard said.

Kyle Martin, a zoology graduate student who works with Thorgaard, has his own research focus. Martin, who also works to identify certain genes, focuses on those that control the fish’s stress response.

“Stress causes slower growth and development in the fish, but without it wild fish are more vulnerable to predators and disease,” he said. “What we learn can be applied to aquaculture to try and raise efficient hatchery fish that do not pose a threat to wild fish.” As with most research that involves living animals, there are those who disagree with the practices Thorgaard’s practices. For this reason the locations of the fish holding tanks have to remain a relative secret, Thorgaard said.

The specifics of the research is what makes the process controversial. Thorgaard’s lab is built on the research and study of cloned trout.

Source: TheDailyEvergreen

Ellen Hardy