Recent advances in gene technology have been applied to create fast-growing transgenic fish, which are of great commercial interest to shorten production cycles and increase food production. However, there is growing concern over the impact escaped growth hormone (GH) transgenic fish may have on the natural environment. To predict these risks it is crucial to obtain data on the relative fitness of transgenic and non-transgenic fish under nature-like conditions. Empirical data on this is, however, lacking at present. Since transgenic fish cannot be released to the wild, studies on these fish must be carried out in specially contained laboratory facilities under simulated natural conditions. The main objective of the current proposal is to carry out such work with the goal to obtain knowledge of the potential risks associated with commercial production of transgenic fish. In addition, these transgenic fish will be used both to increase our understanding of how hormones interact with the organism and its environment to regulate behaviour, and to examine evolutionary questions of why growth in nature often is below that physiologically possible. By comparing the performance of transgenic and non-transgenic fish at different life-stages and under various environ mental settings; an assessment of the relative success of transgenic fish under natural conditions can be made. This information will form the base for policy decisions associated with commercial production of transgenic fish which may pose critical risks to natural populations of fish and other aquatic species in their ecosystems.
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