Genetic control of invasive fish species

Project manager: Michael Smanski

Funded by: Minnesota Futures

Project start date: 2016

Estimated project end date: 2018

Description: This project focuses on a novel method of biocontrol for common carp which will complement existing technologies by introducing a synthetic species-like barrier to reproduction. Researchers will use programmable transcription activators to drive lethal embryonic overexpression of endogenous genes in hybrid embryos. Applications for this synthetic incompatibility could include population control of pest or invasive species or be utilized to prevent the spread of transgenes from genetically modified aquatic organisms to sexually reproducing wild populations.

The method involves altering the genetics of males in the invasive species before releasing them among the population, leading to sterile offspring and the eventual control of the species overall. In order to make this method usable, this study aims to develop this technology further in zebrafish, from which the system can be applied to other invasive fish species and eventually other vertebrate pests.

This control method has promise to be very species-specific, broadly applicable, and cost-effective.