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FAQs on the Genetics of Aquatic Organisms

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The Ethics of Glo-Fish (TM) (6/5/05) Hiya Bob, <<Howdy. RMF>> I just finished reading the article on the Glo-fish, and I was wondering if it would be possible to ask the author if he considers every breed of dog, most breeds of milk and beef producing cattle, and probably 80% or better of all of the grains and fruits he eats as also being 'garbage' due to the fact that they are also man induced 'mutations' (yes, the method may be different, but the intent and process is the same and similar-one is just more 'trial and error, after all, no?) For the record, I also don't like the idea of Glo-fish, or painted chandas, but plenty of folks hate telescopes, black moors, fancy guppies and swords for just as legitimate reasons. <Agreed> I can understand a POV of distaste and dislike, I was just wondering what selective bias the author uses to determine which of our obvious genetic alterations are 'garbage' and why? ;) (heh, maybe I should write a counter point article for submission, playing devil's advocate) <All submissions are welcome for consideration. You will have to use a lot better grammar than you did in this e-mail. Please capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first letter of sentences. We post all e-mails and replies. It's a lot easier for folks to read them if they are punctuated properly. If you do it then we can spend less time proofreading and more time answering.> Keep up the good work-been observing your website for years, all the best! Alan <Thanks. The author of the article is not a member of the question-answering crew, so I do not know how to contact him. I do agree with you on this issue. I have nothing against Glo-Fish (TM) myself. They were created to serve a utilitarian purpose (pollution detection). If there is a side benefit of providing pretty fishes that have not been chemically burned and dyed, that's great from my perspective. I have no problem with GM foods either. I say you're right that there is no difference in principle between this and selective breeding. It's only method and speed. In fact, GM is better because the planning will lead to fewer bad mutations. It just needs to be properly regulated. As for the other fish you mention, I have qualms about some of them. If fish are selectively bred for appearance, I only have a problem if that creates a deformity that impairs the fish or causes pain. Some of the fish sold these days definitely suffer as a result of their selectively-bred appearance. That's my opinion, for what it's worth. Steve Allen>

Pufferfish Yields Human Gene Clues <Neat... wondered why I'm so rotund! And my cousin with those buck teeth, mmm. Bob Fenner> WASHINGTON (AP) - Sequencing the genes of the pufferfish is yielding clues to the more complex human genetic makeup. While pufferfish, or Fugu, is a delicacy in Japan, it has interested scientists because it has the smallest genome of any vertebrate. In sequencing its genome, researchers at the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, Calif., discovered that the pufferfish has about the same number of genes as humans, but without most of the repetitive so-called "junk" DNA that fills out the human genome ( news - web sites). That helps scientists identify genes that are obscured by the repetitive and non-coding sequences in the human, researchers said. The findings are reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science. By comparing the human and pufferfish genomes, the researchers said they have been able to predict the existence of about 1,000 human genes that had not been previously identified. The functions of these hypothetical genes are not yet known, but being able to sort them out from the junk DNA is a step to determining what they do, the researchers said. "Comparative genomics programs like the Fugu project are a key to understanding the biology of the human genome," Joint Genome Institute director Eddy Rubin said in a statement. "As historic and important as the Human Genome Project ( news - web sites) is, it's only the first step in determining how genes work '¹ and why they sometimes don't work they way they should." Dr. Samuel Aparicio of Cambridge University in England noted in a statement that when the puffer and human genomes were compared, the researchers found 961 cases where there was a match in the human that didn't overlap an already predicted or known gene. "This flags up for human geneticists the position of potentially novel human genes in the human genome," he explained. The JGI is operated by three Department of Energy ( news - web sites) laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore in California and Los Alamos in New Mexico. It is also studying the genomes of other animals as well as plants and fungi. Joining in the work on the pufferfish were the Singapore Biomedical Research Council, United Kingdom Medical Research Council, Cambridge University in England, Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Wash., Celera Genomics ( news - web sites) of Rockville, Md., and Myriad Genetics Inc., of Salt Lake City. James W. Fatherree, M.Sc. www.fatherree.com/james

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