BEIJING, Nov. 23,
(Xinhuanet) -- A little tropical fish that glows fluorescent red will be the
first genetically engineered pet, a Texas-based company said on Friday.
A little tropical fish that glows fluorescent red will be the first genetically engineered pet, a Texas-based company said on November 21, 2003. (Reuters Photo)
The zebra fish were originally developed to detect
environmental toxins, but Alan Blake and colleagues at Yorktown Technologies,
L.P. licensed them to sell as pets.
"These fish were bred to help fight environmental
pollution," Blake said in a telephone interview. "They were bred to fluoresce in
the presence of toxins."
Scientists have for decades used a gene called green
fluorescent protein, taken from jellyfish, to help in research. The fish, sold
under the trademarked name GloFish, carry a similar gene taken from a sea coral
that makes it glow all the time.
Blake said there is no evidence the fish will pose any
threat to the environment. Normal zebra fish are commonly used in aquariums and
cannot survive in non-tropical waters.
"They are very bright under any type of light," Blake
said. "Under ultraviolet light in a dark room they will appear to be glowing in
Blake, who before he set up the new business ran an
Internet company, says he did not have a particular interest in fish before. "I
had an aquarium when I was about 10," he said.
The fish, developed at the National University of
Singapore by researcher Zhiyuan Gong, are also available as pets in Taiwan, the
company said. They will sell for about $5 apiece at pet stores in January.