Predatory fish that glow

Not dangerous, just morally ambiguous.One of the more popular exhibits at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose is the wetlab. This is where museum visitors get to add the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene from jellyfish to bacteria to get the bacteria to glow green. The 20, 000 or so people who do this each year get to learn about how genetically engineering bacteria can help to create important medicines like EPO, insulin and growth hormone.

The exhibit is getting a little long in the tooth so I was looking for ways to give it a bit of a refresh. One idea we’re thinking about is adding some new colors to the mix. We might give visitors the option of using a gene from coral that makes the bacteria glow red or a mutant version of GFP that glows blue in addition to the current green one. We may even add a station that lets visitors paint living pictures using these different colored bacteria.

Another simple but fun refresh I wanted to add was an aquarium full of . These are fish that have had various fluorescent genes inserted into their DNA so they glow incredibly brightly. I thought this was an easy and visually fun way to get into a discussion about how GFP has become such a powerful tool for scientists. I was only half right.

Getting GloFish into an exhibit here in California is nontrivial because they are illegal. That’s right: they are legal in the other 49 states but illegal here. I need to get a special permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to have GloFish merrily swimming at The Tech. And Sheldon (from The Big Bang Theory) would have been breaking California law by having them in his Pasadena apartment in the episode, “.”

Wouldn't this look spiffy with a bunch of GloFish swimming in a tank?

Now they aren't illegal because they are dangerous. They won’t spread disease, take over native fishes or swallow swimmers whole. They are small, tropical fish that won’t survive long in California’s chilly waters. And the few that do manage to survive are twice as likely to be eaten by predatory fish compared to their non-glowing brethren. This means that because of natural selection they would quickly be wiped out.

Lunker City Lunker City Slug-Go Lure, 10 per Bag (Arkansas Shiner/Glow Belly, 6-Inch)
Sports (Lunker City)
  • The Original Stick style Bait!
  • Slug-Go is precision balanced to produce the erratic, injured prey action that draws instinctive strikes from all predatory fish
  • Works in Fresh or Salt water.

Descended from Ancestor With Sixth Sense

2011-10-12 10:07:43 by iblisgaurdianangel

Most Vertebrates -- Including Humans -- Descended from Ancestor With Sixth Sense
ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2011) — People experience the world through five senses but sharks, paddlefishes and certain other aquatic vertebrates have a sixth sense: They can detect weak electrical fields in the water and use this information to detect prey, communicate and orient themselves.
A study in the Oct. 11 issue of Nature Communications that caps more than 25 years of work finds that the vast majority of vertebrates -- some 30,000 species of land animals (including humans) and a roughly equal number of ray-finned fishes -- descended from a common ancestor that had a well-developed electroreceptive system

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