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Genetically Modified catfish with alligator DNA

In January 2023, a research team from the University of Auburn, Alabama, USA, published a paper describing their work attempts to genetically modify a catfish with an alligator’s cathelicidin gene (described as small antimicrobial peptides found in specie intestine to fight diseases.)

In detail, the research team added cathelicidin to an alligator’s gene to produce a reproductive hormone for decreasing the catfish reproduction ability as it will help to prevent genetic contamination of the hybrid catfish with wild catfish.

Additionally, the genetically modified catfish with CRISPR gene technology will be a diseases resistant specie as compared to a wild catfish whose survival rates are only two or five members. One day, this catfish will become a part of our food chain.

According to 2021 estimates, the US produced about 307 million pounds of catfish, mainly in the south and from which catfish meet 50% of US demand for farm-raised fish. 

It takes a lot of resources to farm catfish, and due to the shortage of available space on farms, about 45% of catfish fingerlings die due to a high rate of infectious diseases. Also, the fish are becoming less resistant to antibiotics.

Maybe consumers feel uncomfortable eating a catfish that shares an alligator’s DNA despite thinking that the hybrid meat is safe.