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Why would anyone want to make fish glow?

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Published on Oct 24, 2019

The glow of glowing fish comes from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. The GFP gene from Aequorea victoria was transferred to a zebrafish, where it is expressed in the muscle cells of the zebrafish. Interestingly creating glowing fish for pets wasn't the original purpose of the experiment. Instead these glowing fish were designed to sense toxins in the environment.

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Resources :

General information on the zebrafish
https://rebrand.ly/uc5g6h
https://rebrand.ly/1tgrnu

History of George Streisinger and zebrafish
https://rebrand.ly/now7u2

A memoir of George Streisinger
https://rebrand.ly/75e9ap

George Streisinger's first major zebrafish publication launching the field of zebrafish research. The first step was the creation of homozygous zebrafish, which would allow the creation of zebrafish mutants for research.
https://rebrand.ly/xan03g

A review article on transgene technology for the production of the human insulin protein. Herbert Boyer, together with the entrepreneur Robert Swanson founded Genentech that became a major in biotechnology and started producing human insulin in bacteria. The review takes a look at the history of insulin extraction and how commercial recombinant insulin production started.
https://rebrand.ly/upkiqe

(Open source) A fascinating paper by Stanley Cohen taking a retrospective look at the cloning and the impact it has had on biology. The paper outlines well the steps it took to clone DNA and refers to the significant papers. Here Cohen states that researchers suspected that there were barriers between species limiting the transfer of genes.
https://rebrand.ly/uq345f

The original paper (1962) by Osamu Shimomura and colleagues where they first extracted the GFP protein. They were studying a different fluorescent protein at the time, aequorin, and in the paper, GFP is only briefly mentioned as a side note and didn't have a name yet. Later it was found that in the jellyfish, Aequorea victoria, aequorin releases blue light that excites the GFP protein to glow green.
https://rebrand.ly/cx5s4g

Another vital paper (1979) by Osamu Shimomura and colleagues describing the structure of GFP
https://rebrand.ly/lbls5z

The famous paper describing the first transfer of the GFP gene by Douglas Prasher and colleagues
https://rebrand.ly/ob8g5u

A review of transgenic marine animals
https://rebrand.ly/x759zu

A review on the use of GFP in zebrafish by Zhiyuan Gong and Haiyan Wan.
https://rebrand.ly/6qq1gq

The paper on the first glowing fish by Zhiyuan Gong and colleagues
https://rebrand.ly/0g3882

A paper describing the making of the glowing zebrafish by expressing GFP, RFP, and YFP under the mylpfa promoter.
https://rebrand.ly/tgfvz9

(Open source) General review of fluorescent proteins as biomarkers
https://rebrand.ly/zzi3e7

A paper assessing the environmental impact of Glofish
https://rebrand.ly/mm6ky6

Zebrafish are more vulnerable to predators
https://rebrand.ly/kumuhu

A review article looking at the different fluorescent zebrafish developed for sensing environmental toxins. According to the article most of the methods created have not been able to detect toxicants at environmentally relevant concentrations
https://rebrand.ly/62421

A review article on zebrafish and toxicology. The review looks at how zebrafish can be used to study the effects of toxins and also the research their use for toxin detection.
https://rebrand.ly/lpj500

Zhiyuan Gong's fish was also meant to become toxin sensing fish. This is communicated in the book Frankenstein's Cat by Emily Anthes, which takes a look at transgenic animals in general. According to the author, she gained this knowledge from Alan Blake, one of the founders of Yorktown. In the patent filed by Zhiyuan Gong, the primary object of the fluorescent fish was stated to either be continually glowing or to glow selectively in the presence of chemicals.
https://rebrand.ly/j0tyg4
https://rebrand.ly/1coima
The book Frankenstein's Cat is also a source for the information on Yorktown technologies and the time when Glofish entered the market

The selling of GM fish is limited in the EU
https://rebrand.ly/79rhgl

Credits:

Glofish images are from www.glofish.com

Images under (CC BY 2.0)
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Other images
https://rebrand.ly/qzahkv
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Zebrafish image under creative commons
https://rebrand.ly/a4a80

Zebrafish development video (CC BY 4.0)
https://rebrand.ly/69fc1

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