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