Fishing Buddies Find Genes that Control Reproduction
The knockout of a certain gene in fish, done through chemical modifications of RNA, severely disrupts reproductive abilities.
Professor Vance Trudeau and his colleague Professor Wei Hu from the Institute of Hydrobiology in Wuhan, China, are researching the growth and reproduction of fish, two key considerations in aquaculture (fish farming for food). Aquaculturists strive to maximize fish growth to deliver higher yields, but also seek to remove reproductive ability to reduce the risk that mutated genes of escaped fish would contaminate natural populations. Prof. Trudeau and his team use the methods of gene overexpression and gene knockout. In gene overexpression experiments where growth hormone was overproduced, fish grew faster but their fertility was reduced. Using gene knockout, they removed or replaced the gene that controls methylation of RNA (adding CH3 molecules to RNA), severely upsetting the fish’s sexual development and reproductive ability.
This work lays the foundation for future research, for example overexpressing or knocking out other genes discovered by Trudeau’s team that control sexual behaviour and breeding success.
Besides all these efforts, this research partnership is about much more than work. Members on both sides are having fun and learning a lot about each other’s culture. The students involved are getting irreplaceable experience working in an international research setting, a major asset in their future careers. Furthermore, the two groups stimulate each other, ensuring that they conduct first-rate work. Neither of the two teams could have undertaken these studies alone, and for this, the Canadian lab is grateful to its new friends in China. (uOttawa)