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Thread: Genetically Enginneered Koi

  1. #1
    Tosai
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    Genetically Enginneered Koi

    There has been a lot of excitement in the Genetic Engineering field recently, with the advent of a new gene editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9. An interesting review of some of what has been going on with this new technology is in a March 10 special edition of Nature magazine. What caught my eye was the following statement in an introductory article: “. . . armed for the first time with a method that can easily introduce genetic changes to many animals, researchers have edited a veritable menagerie of beasts – from ferrets to elephants to koi carp”. In a subsequent article titled “The CRISPR Zoo”, is the following: “Last September, the genomics firm BGI wowed a conference in Zhenzhen, China, with micropigs – animals that grow to only around 15 kilograms”, and in the next paragraph: “BGI is also using CRISPR to alter the size, colour and patterns of koi carp . . . Jian Wang, director of gene-editing platforms at BGI, says that even good breeders will usually produce only a few of the most beautifully coloured and proportioned, ‘champion quality’ fish out of a million eggs. CRISPR, she says, will let them precisely control the fish’s patterns, and could also be used to make the fish more suitable for home aquariums rather than the large pools where they are usually kept. Wang says the company will begin selling koi in 2017 or 2018”.
    Wow – scary stuff, don’t you think? As for the mini-koi, folks will probably be disappointed at how plain the traditionally top-viewed koi look when viewed from the side in an aquarium. But the larger issue would of course be the prospect of genetically engineered koi that could feasibly be mass-produced at the highest levels achieved by breeders. The next few years could be an interesting time for our hobby.

    Bryan Bateman

  2. #2
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Why do you think it is scary stuff?

  3. #3
    Tosai
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    There are certainly many positives that can come from the responsible use of a relatively simple and inexpensive gene editing tool - in medicine, agriculture, general research, and so forth, but there is something about taking a koi that generations of breeders spent their lifetimes developing, and mass-producing and selling them at a fraction of the price that bothers me a little bit.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Oh, my, my, my. We have talked about this sort of thing on a theoretical basis, but having it be 'real world' is something else altogether. Let's insert an electric blue gene from an African cichlid and have a true blue koi... etc., etc. Everyone can have a clone of Sakura in their pond, and we can create a Sakura with Lion Queen's body. It sure takes all the mystique and romance out of nishikigoi. No more bold breeders standing by the mudpond anticipating what they will have at harvest. They already know that there will be 250 Zebra Jr Shiro Utsuri. The breeder gets replaced by a lab technician directed by a marketing director and financial analyst. The fish are reared by hourly workers with established daily regimens, like on one of those Southeast Asian aquaculture farms. Having 20% losses is no big deal, you just put out 350 units to be sure you have the desired number when the time comes. When creating a new model for the season, you raise them up in controlled conditions. Then do the cloning for mass production. Can the U.S. can absorb 1,000 Lion Queens priced wholesale at $500? ....And, three years later there are 50,000 wholesaled at $50 each.

    Assuming all of this can be done, my first thought is that somebody will be getting patents on every tiny step in the processes used and exclusive licenses from existing patent holders for use of their invention(s) in regard to koi. If that can be done, you become the sole source in the world where every koi produced is All-Japan GC level. If you can produce in quantity [NB: some genetically modified crops are produced in quantity currently], you would be able to put every quality breeder out of business. But, of course, that presumes you can get hold of the Sakura and Lion Queen genes to do the work in the lab-factory.

    Most likely, the complexity of koi genetics would result in it taking a very long time before anyone could produce a designer-koi. But, there already are genetically modified food fish that grow bigger and produce more pounds of meat per pound of food fed. Much work has been done with genetically modified salmon. The concerns over modified food has had a limiting effect, but it is popping up throughout the world food supply. It will increase until universal simply because it must in order to feed another 5 billion people.

    Genetically modified ornamentals like koi are much less of a concern, although the environmental impacts are just as serious. But if it means everyone can own Izumiya's #1, why not?

    I suspect I would still keep koi, but I doubt I'd be willing to spend much on models everybody has. And, I doubt I'd be willing to spend much on naturally produced Shiro Utsuri that did not match Panda Jr. And, it sure would make koi shows a different experience. If they continued at all, judging would be about husbandry and not the fish.... how well was Kohaku Model 976Z3 raised? That's an agriculture fair sort of judging, not 'the art of koi'.

    Scary??? .... Well, it would take most of the fun out of it.

  5. #5
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Barry Diller cloned his Jack Russell terrier Shannon. It cost the billionaire US$100,000.00.

    Below is a picture of two of the clone puppies.



    Notice anything?

    Can Sakura's Lion Queen's pattern be cloned?

    Can Lion Queen's care and feeding be duplicated by average hobbyist?

  6. #6
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    But, there already are genetically modified food fish that grow bigger and produce more pounds of meat per pound of food fed. Much work has been done with genetically modified salmon. The concerns over modified food has had a limiting effect, but it is popping up throughout the world food supply. It will increase until universal simply because it must in order to feed another 5 billion people.
    If there is no GMO, there would be no food to foster artificial conditions that enable another 5 billion people. Besides, what would the next 5 billion people be doing? Robots will be taking over much of the work in a few more decades. Furthermore, the premise that GMO solves the food scarcity problem is false. Even without GMO, food wasted and purposefully destroyed is a common practice in agricultural circles, for price stability and to protect producers. Excess food production doesn't reach places where food is scarce because the wealth is not spread around enough for the marginalized to be able to purchase them.

    When Lion Queen gets cloned and mass-produced, no doubt koi will just as easily go back to the dinner table, very likely as the centerpiece entreee in a wedding banquet, with the colorful fish on display before it is carved up and served.

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricshaw View Post
    Barry Diller cloned his Jack Russell terrier Shannon. It cost the billionaire US$100,000.00.

    Below is a picture of two of the clone puppies.




    Notice anything?

    Can Sakura's Lion Queen's pattern be cloned?

    Can Lion Queen's care and feeding be duplicated by average hobbyist?
    Cloning reliably and in volume is a long way off. Patterning may prove to be one of the most challenging traits of all. (But, these days change occurs so quickly we might all live to see it.) Currently doable is genetic modification to accomplish size and growth goals. It would not be much different to use genetic modification for pigment and skin qualities. In field crop work, there have been undesired losses of some traits in the pursuit of other improved traits. Getting 'everything right' does not happen easily, but each year there is progress in refining crops. Once the knowledge and techniques are in place, there is no reason to think they will not be applied widely. In 1916 the idea of an electronic kitchen appliance for every little task was rather crazy, but by the 1950s they were everywhere. By the end of this century, we will seem as archaic as 1880s subsistence farmers in Kansas.
    Last edited by MikeM; 03-19-2016 at 08:28 AM.

  8. #8
    Oyagoi Eugeneg's Avatar
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    One is a fish and the other is a mammal. There is a great difference between the two. If it was so easy there would be a cure for cancer where over a 100billion was already spent in the US alone.
    So the methods will be selective breeding and finding the best out of 12million works for Momotaro
    Rest is nonsense in my opinion
    Regards
    Eugene

  9. #9
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugeneg View Post
    One is a fish and the other is a mammal. There is a great difference between the two. If it was so easy there would be a cure for cancer where over a 100billion was already spent in the US alone.
    So the methods will be selective breeding and finding the best out of 12million works for Momotaro
    Rest is nonsense in my opinion
    Regards
    Eugene
    Breeding koi is more complex than curing cancer. One involves a legally imposed monopoly to crowd out alternatives, the other is plain honest work and patience.

    Sent from my XT1068 using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Cloning reliably and in volume is a long way off. Patterning may prove to be one of the most challenging traits of all. (But, these days change occurs so quickly we might all live to see it.) Currently doable is genetic modification to accomplish size and growth goals. It would not be much different to use genetic modification for pigment and skin qualities. In field crop work, there have been undesired losses of some traits in the pursuit of other improved traits. Getting 'everything right' does not happen easily, but each year there is progress in refining crops. Once the knowledge and techniques are in place, there is no reason to think they will not be applied widely. In 1916 the idea of an electronic kitchen appliance for every little task was rather crazy, but by the 1950s they were everywhere. By the end of this century, we will seem as archaic as 1880s subsistence farmers in Kansas.
    There are genes that are responsible for piebald expression.
    I am betting that piebaldism is a random expression and cannot be 100% cloned.
    Need input from Dr. Gomelsky.

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