Japanese scientists use surrogates to produce endangered species

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Japanese scientists have developed a new biotechnology technique that uses mackerel as surrogates for bluefin tuna with the hope of saving the prized species from extinction.

Considered a delicacy in Japanese cuisine, globals supplies of bluefin tuna have been dwindling, prompting the International Union for Conservation of Nature to put the fish onto its red list.

The first step of the procedure involves extracting reproductive stem cells from bluefin tuna. Researchers at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology then use minute needles to inject these cells into mackerel fry.

Under the right conditions, the stem cells travel to the testes and ovaries of the mackerel and cause the fish to reproduce tuna. Scientists are now waiting anxiously to see whether the mature mackerel will spawn bluefin tuna eggs.

The team has already successfully produced a batch of tiger puffer fish, another endangered species, using smaller grass puffer fish as a surrogate. — Reuters

wholesalers cutting up a bluefin tuna at their shop at the world's largest fish market at Tsukiji in Tokyo, Dec 1, 2014. — AFP pic

wholesalers cutting up a bluefin tuna at their shop at the world’s largest fish market at Tsukiji in Tokyo, Dec 1, 2014. — AFP pic