Fluorescent fish find pollution

Genetically engineered fish may one day help detect estrogen-like chemicals in consumer products and aquatic habitats.

By | June 13, 2011

Transgenic medaka fish produce green fluorescence lightVITARGENT LTD

Researchers in Hong Kong have developed a fish that glows in the presence of estrogen-like chemicals called estrogenic endocrine disruptors, pollutants that leach from many plastics such as food containers and bottles and are known to cause breast and prostate cancers in laboratory animals. Scientists at biotech company Vitargent inserted a green fluorescent protein gene into the genome of the medaka fish and positioned it next to a gene that senses estrogen, according to New Scientist. The Vitargent team tested the fish in a handful of sites around Hong Kong and found that they lit up when swimming in contaminated waters, suggesting they may be useful in detecting estrogen mimics in water bodies or consumer products. The fish even glowed when exposed to a mixture of chemicals that, in isolation, have little or no estrogenic effect, indicating the fish were able to detect the additive estrogenic effect caused by combinations of compounds as well.

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