University of the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, Australia, has received a grant to use hormone therapy in sea cucumbers for the first time, according to a news release. The $285,000 grant from Aus4Innovation, a development assistance program between Australia and Vietnam, will be used to strengthen the numbers of a prized sea cucumber called the white teatfish (Holothuria fuscogilva), which is eaten as a delicacy throughout Asia.
Scientists led by molecular biologist Abigail Elizur at the university’s GeneCology Research Centre previously discovered that the neurohormone relaxin-like gonad-stimulating peptide (RGP) can be used to increase reproductive success in sea cucumbers. A team of USC researchers will produce the hormone on a larger scale and inject it into cucumbers to help the animals develop and release oocytes. “Sea cucumbers are really important ecologically and economically,” says Elizur in the news release. “This hormone could potentially be adapted for use in other invertebrates. It would be wonderful to use it to spawn other species which have difficulties reproducing in captivity.”
Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.