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Biotech Science

Taiwan Breeds Transgenic, Fluorescent Green Pigs 261

Posted by Zonk
from the because-your-day-wasn't-distopean-enough dept.
ScentCone writes "Transgenic pigs (and other critters) are valuable research tools because of their utility in studying human diseases. Tracking changes in some developing tissues is going to be easier, say a Taiwanese team that has introduced fluorescent, green proteins into the breeding. Said one of the researchers: 'There are partially fluorescent green pigs elsewhere, but ours are the only ones in the world that are green from inside out. Even their hearts and internal organs are green.' Do you like green eggs and ham?"
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Taiwan Breeds Transgenic, Fluorescent Green Pigs

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:47PM (#14455878) Homepage Journal

    How would you like to swing on a star,
    Carry moonbeans home in a jar,
    You could be better off than you are,
    You could be a fluorescent green pig!

    Now the new pig is an animal with a bright green hide
    His wings are powerful and wide!
    He flies majestically through the skies
    'Cause know genetic engineering risks are a pack of lies!
    So if PETA and Greenpeace are your gigs,
    You may be bombed a flying green pigs!

  • by nizo (81281) * on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:49PM (#14455892) Homepage Journal
    So where are the winged pigs already? I would pay good money for one the next time I ask my boss for two weeks of vacation and he says, "You can have two weeks off when pigs fly".

    And while you are creating freaks o' nature, please sign my future offspring up for a pair of wings, skin with chlorophyll, and night vision.

    • News flash! (Score:4, Funny)

      by thepotoo (829391) <thepotoospam@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:54PM (#14455958)
      my future offspring
      Buddy, I have some sad news for you:

      You post on slashdot.

    • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rei (128717)
      How well would a pair of wings work for a human? We have dense bone structure. We have muscles in places where they'd add extra weight during flight. We don't have any adaptations to our sensory organs to make them work well during flight or at high altitudes. We don't have attachment points in our skeletons for the added musculature needed to operate the wings.

      Would chlorophyl-laden skin be useful for the average person? First off, I assume you mean chloroplast-laden skin, as chlorophyl doesn't usuall
      • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Daniel_Staal (609844)
        Forget chloroplasts. The average person posting on Slashdot has not problem with feeding themselves, or their family. In fact, they are probably overweight. A more useful change would be to speed up their metabolism, or reduce the inclination to snack on fatty foods.

        Night vision would likely be a trade-off: increase night vision and you'll probably harm color. (Though there are a few things you could do that would increase both first. Reflective retina backs and larger pupil ranges come to mind.)

        You pr
        • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ePhil_One (634771)
          A more useful change would be to speed up their metabolism, or reduce the inclination to snack on fatty foods.

          Really no need to speed up the metabolism (mmm, fever). All you need to do is short out the fat storage mechanism, so that excess blood sugars are dumped into the urine instead of stored away. A million years of evolution through feast and famine cycles favored humans with efficient metabolisms that maximized the amount of energy they could store as fat put us where we are, the last 50 have favore

        • I seem to remember a human being has a "limiter" in his cortex, that stops him to use 100% strengh at all time...

          Remember the stories of a mother lifting a car because her offspring was under it ?
          Remember that barrier you jumped after being frightened by a snake ?

          It all happened because your body pumped large doses of adrenaline in your body...

          Which is also one of the things oriental martial arts study tech you to bypass...

          Hard studies in Kung Fu (and Yin techniques) allow you to do just that...put more adr
        • Re:Green pigs eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by smellsofbikes (890263)
          You could just design eyes intelligently, like our Intelligent Designer didn't do for us but did for octopi, [catalase.com], and put the rods and cones on the FRONT of the eye instead of making the photons go through the nerve layers and the physical support layers before getting to the optic nerves. Funny how the Intelligent Designer did our eyes just like all the other vertebrates, which is to say: stupidly.

          The backbone makes a lot of sense in four-legged animals, but not so much in upright ones. Same with the intesti
          • Dude, you already have something you can stick a Tagalog thumbdrive in before you fly to Manila - if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat!
      • How dare you ruin a good idea with your fancy facts and right answers!
    • I would pay good money for one the next time I ask my boss for two weeks of vacation and he says, "You can have two weeks off when pigs fly".

      Just show him a photo of a police helicopter in flight. Then book your vacation.

      Me, I'm holding out for a true phosphorescent pet. But not one of those glow-squids because they don't live very long.
    • I can't give you skin with chlorophyll, but I can give you this [chlorophyll.us].
  • Stupid Pigs (Score:3, Funny)

    by sarlos (903082) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:50PM (#14455897)
    They're keeping all the other animals in the barn awake!
  • uh-oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You mean those animals i see after my 10th tequila are real?
    • Re:uh-oh (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They were real after the first. After the tenth you woke up with one.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:50PM (#14455906) Journal
    ... I don't think this meat would sell so well in the market.

    Furthermore, after reading the two links, I'm not exactly clear on what the benefit is when you turn them green. I assume it's so you can tell who's mated with the new pigs because the transgenic coloration will be present in the offspring?

    From the article:
    But creating them has not been easy. Many of the altered embryos failed to develop.
    Four out of 265 is a pretty low rate.

    I wonder how this will affect their ability to survive in nature and I also wonder if the Polynesian Islands will one day be covered with rainbow colored pigs left there by researchers trying to do stem cell research.

    Researcher 1: "Has he got any orange on him?"
    Researcher 2: "Nope but he's got red, green and purple all about him."
    Researcher 1: "Then he's not one a carrier."
    Researcher 2: "That's one ugly pig though." *looks in his Audubon Society guide* "According to his colors, he's got Alzheimer's genes, cancer genes and is extremely susceptible to syphilis...poor bastard."
    • I mean, where will they possibly hide?

      I hope that fluorescence doesn't last long.

      This has got to be the worst news I've read all day. This makes me think of that Jurassic Park quote... we keep asking ourselves whether we can do something, but not whether we should.
      • I hope that fluorescence doesn't last long.

        It lasts as long as they live. The green isn't just a dye or ink, it's the actual color of their skin! Their skin _is_ green, it's not dyed green.

        -Jesse
        • How do they sleep with all that light? Poor pigs. This is pretty cruel.
          • I think you're joking, but just to be on the safe side (there's got to be at least one A.C> out there who believes this!):

            As I understand it, they're fluorescent, not chemoluminescent. In other words, they require an external stimulus (e.g. a UV light) to generate the glowing effect. In a completely dark room, they glow no more than your average, garden-variety pig does.
        • next they'll figure out how to apply it to humans as retrofittable 'coloration'.

          That would make the whole black/yellow/white thing seem prety tame.

          Imagine if there were people walking around shaded with a 'Tiggy Winky' purple hue.

          The religious right would go red in the face.

          Oor maybe you could color voters persistantly according to their registered political party affiliation. Red state, blue state would really mean something then.

          I can see riding a bus and being confronted with some kids colored 'gang gree
        • Oh

          I thought they were only green when really angry. I don't like them then they're angry...

      • The problem is that there aren't many natural predators for wild pigs.

        Since Hernando de Soto brought pigs to the New World, wild boars were used up through the colonies to destroy Native American crops. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to kill these pigs. Feral pigs are quite muscular and large ... proving quite the opponent to any respectable animal.

        Ever had to castrate a full grown boar? I have, and it's not easy, four grown men to hold it down and one to ... well, the football term might be "str
        • I've been on a hobby farm where there were a couple of tame sows -- I'm surprised that even four men could hold down an irate, full grown boar. No tranquilizer?
          • Ha, my parents wouldn't even pay for me to be put under when I had to have my wisdom teeth cut out.

            You think my family would waste money on tranqs to cull a pig? Not bloody likely.

            If you think family farms have the money to throw around on things like this, you're wrong. There's no coincidence I'm working for a huge company and not on a family farm--corporate farms have sapped the money from the small time farmer. Kiss the family farm goodbye & enjoy your cheap frankenfood.
        • The pigs are just an excuse. Once the countryside is ravaged by fluorescent green pigs, Monsanto will make billions selling stealthy black velociraptors to hunt them.

          At least, that's their plan.
      • I mean, where will they possibly hide?

        The same place other pigs hide... In the pen, waiting for the farmer to decide they're fat enough to slaughter. Or did you not realize where bacon comes from, and that pigs are not wild creatures? Not to mention the fact that these are specifically pigs that live in a lab. Either way, no need for them to hide.

        I hope that fluorescence doesn't last long.

        Well, there's this thing about genes, see? The pigs will be flourescent green for at least as long as my hair will be

    • It's to track the pig's genetic material after stem cell transplants. They're not being bred for food.
    • This isn't intended for "the farm", nor for the butcher or human consumption. You must have missed these paragraphs:
      The scientists will use the transgenic pigs to study human disease. Because the pig's genetic material is green, it is easy to spot.

      So if, for instance, some of its stem cells are injected into another animal, scientists can track how they develop without the need for a biopsy or invasive test.
      • This isn't intended for "the farm", nor for the butcher or human consumption. You must have missed these paragraphs:

        True, but I'm afraid you've also missed this one:

        The researchers say they hope the new, green pigs will mate with ordinary female pigs to create a new generation - much greater numbers of transgenic pigs for use in research.

        Once they begin to breed the pigs, it will be all but impossible to stop the spread of the genes. I fully expect to see some jellyfish genes in animals mean for consmption

        • I fully expect to see some jellyfish genes in animals mean for consmption with fifteen to twenty years.

          I saw jellyfish on the menu at a local chinese restaurant... never dared to taste it, though.
        • Once they begin to breed the pigs, it will be all but impossible to stop the spread of the genes. I fully expect to see some jellyfish genes in animals mean for consmption with fifteen to twenty years.

          that's a common fear with genetically modified crops, but I don't think it's nearly as valid a fear as it is for, say, soybeans or rats.

          Soybean pollen travels through the air, contaminating neighbouring crops that could be miles away. Pig sperm, not so much.

          If lab rats with this gene escaped, they could

    • They can take cells from a green pig, transplant them into pretty much anything else, and then track growth / spread / etc from those cells just by looking for the green marker. That seems to be the main benefit to further science.

    • Four out of 265 is a pretty low rate.

      Actually, that's pretty good. Generally speaking, a "1 healthy animal per 1000 modified embryos" success rate was normal, and that resulted in chimeric fusions, the splotchy nature of the incorporation of the exogenous DNA. Some parts of the animal would express the genes for the green fluorescent protein, others wouldn't. If they really got a line of pigs that express the gene in 100% of their cells, then that's a big step forward, not so much to have pigs that flueores
  • by fighthairloss (455826) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:50PM (#14455909)
    and green ham. Sam I am.
    • IIRC, the ham was always green.

      Go on. Look it up.
      • IIRC, the ham was always green.

        Go on. Look it up.

        It is confirmed. I have the book right here. Sam I Am has a plate with green eggs, and a green ham next to it. It's a bit of linguistic ambiguity there in the title phrase. Is it (Green Eggs) and Ham, or Green (Eggs and Ham)? Common usage would have just the eggs green, but the artwork shows the ham green as well. As a small child my mom offered to make me green eggs and ham, and I distinctly remember requesting JUST THE EGGS be colored, as green ham is j

  • "Do you like green eggs and ham?"

    So are green chickens next?
  • Glow-in-the-Dark pigs are not that much of a big. Call me when they create a flying green pig, then we can talk ham.
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:52PM (#14455929) Homepage Journal
    Just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? Of course St. Patrick's Day breakfast could get a bit easier tho'...
  • Oh, for a sec I thought "translucent". But, translucent (or, even transparent) and flourescent would be quite interesting. Green/greenish ham...

    Image word: 'develops'
    • Green BACON. Mmm, bacon.

      Actually, this could give rise to a new kind of "free range" livestock, where you could just let them wander wherever you want and then when you need to round them up you use a UV spotlight and you can see them almost anywhere. Of course, they would be Genetically Engineered Free Range, which might be the juxtaposition that kills the deal.

  • by FerretFrottage (714136) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:53PM (#14455948)
    for what they are really trying to do--create plaid monkeys.

  • "Don't eat no red meat? No, don't eat no green meat."

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:54PM (#14455964)
    > There are partially fluorescent green pigs elsewhere, but ours are the only ones in the world that are green from inside out."

    This is not the Kermit and Miss Piggy sex tape you were looking for.

    I saw a pig upon a stair,
    A verdant pig that wasn't there,
    It wasn't there again today,
    Gee, I wish he'd go away.

    I never saw a glowing pig,
    I never hope to be one,
    But I'll tell you this right now,
    I'd rather see than be one.

  • by Robert1 (513674) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:55PM (#14455973) Homepage
    What this proves is that it is possible to induce protein induction on all major organs in animals. This same technique could in theory be used to express self-surface proteins on an animal that can be grow in 1-2 years. These organs could then be harvested and used for human transplants. By having self-proteins the body won't rejected the transplant and there would be a relatively cheap and practical supply of usable organs.
    • Sure, using pigs to grow organs for humans is a great idea... if you don't mind all the possible diseases that affect pigs, whether known or unknown, crossing over into human beings!
    • They had a episode of SAC [wikipedia.org] (SA: The Fortunate Ones - MISSING HEARTS) in which they investigated missing organs from a particular company and they showed the pig farms in which people would donate cells that could be grown into full organs in the pigs.

      Basically, the premise was that there were med students that were stealing organs that people where going to throw away in order to sell on the black market by relabling them.

      Still its an interesting concept and maybe possible someday.
    • I think everyone assumed that there were type I or II or III RNApol promoters tht would function in all organisms, so there was no real need to do the exp.

      As to harvesting transgenic organs for transplant into humans, it is not enough to add necessary antigens, you have to remove unwanted antigens as well.

      this is a little more tricky.

      You also have to demonstrate that the tissue does not contain any porcine viruses that can jump to humans; proving a negative is often a little tedious
  • by haluness (219661) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:58PM (#14455997)
    ..such as Chasm City etc described a hybrid between pigs and humans, usually belonging to the lowest ranks of society.

    Who knows, maybe his description was just a few hundred years early :)
  • Has this been published yet? Anyone know where? I'm curious what promoter they used to drive expression of GFP in every cell.
  • by ddkilzer (79953) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:06PM (#14456075)
    So you're telling me that the pigs' blood is green, too? Doesn't that make them Vulcan?
    • Jokes aside. I am really curious about the internal of these green pigs. The scientists suggest that the pigs are green inside out. We know that the red meat is red because of hemoglobin. Its colour is pretty intense. I wonder if the jellyfish green pigment is actually an extra pigment included in the pigs' body and blood... If so, the pork should have some funny colour which is a mix between red and green. Amazing one way or the other.
    • So you're telling me that the pigs' blood is green, too? Doesn't that make them Vulcan?

      No no no. You're confusing the terms necessary and sufficient. In order to prove something is a Vulcan, it is necessary that it have green blood. However, having green blood is not sufficient to prove it is Vulcan.

      Otherwise, you've already proven that it is a table since it has four legs. :-P
  • by thaerin (937575) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:07PM (#14456088)
    Sounds like just the perfect thing you'd need to play a great practical joke with on your stoner roommate. Wait until they're really high, turn on all the black lights, and then shuffle in a few of the green pigs.
  • ...Pigs glow in the dark." Oh wait...
  • Another use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Belseth (835595) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:10PM (#14456127)
    If the process could be adapted to work on developing cells and attach only to cancer cells it could help speed detection and make it easier to see cancerous cells during surgery. The obvious benefit would be with melonomia. If after a treatment cancerous moles would change color it'd make detection possible without biopsies and help see if it was spreading.
    • If the process could be adapted to work on developing cells and attach only to cancer cells it could help speed detection and make it easier to see cancerous cells during surgery. The obvious benefit would be with melonomia. If after a treatment cancerous moles would change color it'd make detection possible without biopsies and help see if it was spreading.

      Amazing. 113 comments, 19 ranked +3 or above, and this is the only freaking one with a science-to-humor ratio of greater than 1.

      No wonder I'm a subscri [slashdot.org]
      • Re:Another use (Score:3, Insightful)

        It wasn't that great. If we could create something to seek out cancer cells I doubt we would have it tag them green for easy identification in standard course grained surgery. We would just have it execute the damn thing.
  • If this goes into mass production, we'll end up with florescent green sewage.
  • Now we will have to think twice when we get UFO reports from Taiwan with people seeing 'little green men.'

    I bet their colleagues are green with envy.
  • by MadTinfoilHatter (940931) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:19PM (#14456216)

    "Transgenic pigs (and other critters) are valuable research tools because of their utility in studying human diseases."

    ...'cause one day when you come down with a real serious disease that turns you fluorecent and green, you'll be thanking these guys. :-P
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:20PM (#14456223) Homepage Journal
    Where I live we've had glowing pigs since 1979. In fact, most everything around here glows.

    What's really neat is at night you don't need to turn the lights on around the house to see. Your natural bodily glow provides enough light for you to see. Even better, if you get up in the middle of the night you never have to worry about stepping on your cat or dog because you can easily see them.

    However, it should be noted that image of glowing bodies under the covers can be quite disturbing for the uninitiated so the orgies have to be kept to a minimum.

    Yes, I survived Three Mile Island. Gallows humor is what keeps me going.
  • Blue Asian Women! Chop-chop!
  • Why am I thinking of pigoons [oryxandcrake.com] ?

  • by metternich (888601) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:26PM (#14456297)
    that the author of the BBC article is Chris Hogg?
  • by ds_job (896062) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:26PM (#14456304)
    I can't tell you the number of times that I have mislaid my pig's hearts in the dark. Now I'll never need to do my "abomination against $DEITY" experiments with the light on again.
    *mwhahah*
  • by gomel (527311) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @01:27PM (#14456306) Homepage Journal
    I tried to warn you but you wouldn't listen!
  • When will we have pigoons, woolvogs, and rakunks too?
  • I can think of one marketing opportunity for flourescent green pigskin: American football. Especially for night games.
  • A few years ago we bought some ham. There was a green spot on it, after i looked closer it was a tiny green worm-like thing with black eyes, all curled up. I don't want to imagine what would happen if a thing like that entered my system.

    If the ham is green, how are we supposed to spot this stuff?
  • ... Taiwan and mainland residents are clamoring for transgenic pig/tiger. A near riot was narrowly averted in Shanghai's meet processing district when several thousand middle-aged men fell out of line at the butchers and mobbed the counters, demanding their share of "aphrodisiac pork". Restaurants across both countries cannot serve enough of the much-sought food ingredient, thought by millions to contain valuable proteins from tigers that will stimulate male function, much as ground tiger penis used to be p
  • Now I know what to do with this! [mymilky.com]
  • Pics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:05PM (#14456715) Homepage
    This article [bbc.co.uk] from the BBC has pictures.

    They appear to glow in the dark!
  • Just by leaving meat in your fridge for long enough..
  • by MECC (8478)
    "The researchers say they hope the new, green pigs will mate with ordinary female pigs to create a new generation - much greater numbers of transgenic pigs for use in research."

    It would be interesting to know if the green color increases their ability to attract mates.

  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by posterlogo (943853) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:32PM (#14457044)
    ...slashdot really is no place for biology research news. 99% percent of these posts are crude (but amusing) humor, indicating a benign carelessness about underlying research topic. The last 1% is truly frightening -- people so afraid of biology research they actually feel it necessary to malign it while lacking any true understanding of what is going on.

    These transgenic animals are nothing new -- transgenics (even the fluorescent kind) have been around for many years, and are a critical tool for elucidating basic mechanisms in biology. Pigs, like mice, worms, yeast, bacteria, etc., are model organisms -- their underlying cell biology is so generic, that understanding it is immensely useful for many pure research and biomedical purposes.

    The researchers involved in this study were not out to make some freak of nature -- they used a very straightforward line of reasoning to make these transgenics. By labelling the entire animal, one can trace any part of the animal when it is transplanted into an unlabelled animal. For example, researchers could study what happens with organ transplant: how do the donor organs interact with the receipient body? Does it integrate well or not? More cutting-edge research could involve tracing individual tissues and cells, such as stem cells and neurons and cardiac cells. Where do the cells migrate? Do they localize properly (i.e. do cardiac cells stay where they should at the heart)? Do stem cells that were introduced for a particular damage (i.e. brain damage) actually migrate to the brain and function where they should?

    As stated in the article, many others have done similar studies with mice, monkeys, etc while labelling specific tissues. These researchers have done it with a pig, and while labelling every cell in the pig. I don't personally believe this is novel from a research standpoint, but I think it is a valuable tool continue research in mammalian biology. I certainly don't think it's something to be feared, hated, and maligned as some here have suggested.

  • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @02:58PM (#14457333) Homepage Journal
    Imagine that you are a biotech company, and you've successfully created a line of engineered pigs. Maybe they are suitable for organ transplantation into humans, maybe they eat lawyers and sh*t nickles... they're really valuable for whatever reason. How do you keep somebody from just hijacking a shipment of your WonderPigs(tm) and claiming they invented an unrelated line of pigs that do the same thing as yours?

    Easy! Create an artificial gene that makes a do-nothing protein with a novel, specific, unique sequence that you select. Insert that gene along with the action gene cluster (EatLawyer + ShtNickles) and the marker gene (Green Fluorescent Protein). Then, everytime the pig's cells express the action genes, they also express the marker (GFP) and your non-obvious marker protein.

    When their SuperPigs(tm) hit the marketplace two years after your WonderPigs(tm), you just take a tissue sample and look for the telltale protein. Even if they silcenced the GFP and replaced it with Red, Yellow or Magenta, they wouldn't know to look for your hidden gene. You could even set it up so that it's only expressed under certain conditions, like an Easter Egg. That particular proetin sequence isn't found in nature, so if it's there, this must be a pirated pig.

    It's like the funny pictures that chip manufacturers hide on processing chips [fsu.edu]... copy this layout and we'll know where to look for our signature.
  • This is indeed a breakthrough. They can make the entire pig glow green previously they could only make certain body parts glow like their testicles. [bbc.co.uk]

    I'd love to have a glowing pig so I can tell the neighbors it's radioactive.

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