A new transgenic trout has been designed to have so much muscle that its body has developed a bulging hump on its back. What turns a trout into the Terminator?
Terry Bradley, an aquaculture professor at the University of Rhode Island, has been researching how to counteract the effects of a protein called myostatin, which slows muscle growth. At last he's discovered how to block the production of myostatin in fish, resulting in this bulbous creature you see in the video above. Bradley's transgenic trout tend to grow 15-20% more muscle than average trout.
According to the University:
Bradley and a team of graduate students spent 500 hours injecting 20,000 rainbow trout eggs with various DNA types designed to inhibit myostatin. Of the eggs that hatched, 300 carried the gene that led to increased muscle growth. After two years, most exhibited a "six-pack ab" effect, even though fish lack standard abdominal muscles. They also have increased musculature throughout, including a prominent dorsal hump that made them look like they had muscular shoulders.
The first generation of transgenic trout were subsequently spawned, and offspring carrying the gene in all of their muscle cells have been produced. Studies are under way to determine if the fish grow at a faster rate as well.
"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."
And yes, it could also shed light on how to create a super-muscled human. Or it might just allow us to breed really meaty fish, which is a boon to fish farmers. And to people who yearn for a 20 pound trout steak.