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Japanese Creating "Super Tuna" 280

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the delicious-engineering dept.
motherpusbucket writes "The Telegraph reports that Japanese scientists hope to be breeding a so-called 'Super Tuna' within the next decade or so. They have about 60% of the genome mapped and expect to finish it in the next couple months. The new breed will grow faster, taste good, have resistance to disease and will totally kick your ass if you cross them."
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Japanese Creating "Super Tuna"

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  • by segedunum (883035) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:45PM (#28560721)
    Have they bred them with frickin' laser beams though?
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:45PM (#28560727) Homepage Journal
    Teenage Kanji Ninja Tuna
  • Sashimi (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:46PM (#28560761)
    After reading all those articles about how the ocean would be depleted of fish, Tuna being one of my favorite fish I approve, now they need to make a super version of whatever Tuna eat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vectronic (1221470)

      ...make a super version of whatever Tuna eat.

      Exactly. If the Tuna are bigger, and less prone to diseases, they will be eating more, and not dying as much from (normal non-human) predators. And on that note, what about the other animals that eat tuna? will they be strong enough to still kill the tuna they normally do, will they eat less, or start eating younger ones and sort of usurping this whole plan? Plus if they are bigger and stronger, they will likely linger in climate zones they would normally leave sooner, also (rather drastically, which is th

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:47PM (#28560771)

    Sounds like a good idea, rather then fish Tuna to extinction they're solving the problem by make better Tuna.

    Now all we have to have to a bigass debate on slashdot about how this is going to make DRM zombie tunas while ignorantly forgetting the fact that "Natural" tuna have had their genes altered through hundreds of years of breading.. Basically like every other time DNA altering comes up in a story..

    • by Lunoria (1496339) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:58PM (#28560999)

      "Natural" tuna have had their genes altered through hundreds of years of breading.

      Tuna comes pre-breaded now? Talk about a time saver!

      • by mcgrew (92797)

        Tuna comes pre-breaded now? Talk about a time saver!

        I was reading a story in the paper about battered women, and I thought "damn, all this time I've been eating them plain!"

    • Cool. Breading alters genes :)

      I know it was a typo. But it was a funny one.

    • by adamchou (993073)
      This might solve an issue with Tuna being over fished but if these super tuna are extremely efficient, how does it adversely affect other fish populations? I sur ehope they don't plan on releasing this inot the wild. There are plenty of examples of human intervention in nature causing havoc.
    • by EraserMouseMan (847479) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:32PM (#28561605)
      We should hunt them to near-extinction. Then they'll get put on the extinction list and all tuna fishing will be banned. Then my roommate will have to find a different terrible-smelling food to eat. . . in mass quantities . . . EVERY evening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • Uhh, all breading/battering jokes aside, we don't breed tuna. We catch them wild. I assume that there are probably some tuna farms, but the vast majority of tuna are wild-caught and thus have not been shaped by the genetic engineering via selective breeding that has happened to cows, pigs, sheep, etc.

      -SB
    • So far there's on idiot down thread to turned this into "let's starve the masses to save the planet" but overall the response has been a lot more reasoned than I expected. Seems DNA altered Tuna is less threatening than DNA altered plants.

      I'm drawing a blank, does anyone else have an idea why that would be?
    • Now all we have to have to a bigass debate on slashdot about how this is going to make DRM zombie tunas while ignorantly forgetting the fact that "Natural" tuna have had their genes altered through hundreds of years of breading.. Basically like every other time DNA altering comes up in a story..

      If they made a terminator gene for Super Tuna preventing them from breeding, similar to the one in corn, HELL YES I'd argue against it.

      I'm not against gene manipulation in theory, it's just the practice that worries me. I know you were making a joke by calling it DRM, but that's exactly what it could be; living beings with DRM.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Until of course we find that these genetically-mutated tuna have infiltrated natural stocks and any unforeseen genetic abnormalities are passed on to them as well. I don't know why it's so hard to understand the differences between natural selection and the dangers posed by genetically-introduced traits. I'm not a biologists, but I've seen the insanely haphazard changes you can get in plants and animals by manipulating even one seemingly harmless gene. And, not completely understanding what we're doing m
    • by plopez (54068) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @04:04PM (#28563367) Journal

      Except for, that GMO are altered in ways unnatural to breeding, such as using viruses to inject not only cross species but cross kingdom genes into their genes. This is a radical departure from selective breeding and natural selection.

      see:
      http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=94728813969&h=p0i5C&u=Xnrbb [facebook.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:48PM (#28560789)

    A modify the DNA so that few dozen Sharks Fins appear on the new fish.
    Perhaps they could save the real thing from extinction.
    Then again the 'Green Lobby' would rise up against 'Genetically Modified Fish' Sigh.

  • TUNAZILLA! (Score:4, Funny)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:50PM (#28560845)

    'nuf said...

  • Tuna Porn? (Score:4, Funny)

    by basementman (1475159) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:52PM (#28560867) Homepage
    I predict they will genetically enhance the necessary parts to incorporate them into the weird porn industry that thrives in Japan. After the tunas career is up they can still serve his enhanced parts as a rare delicacy in restaurants.
  • Monsanto of the Sea? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:53PM (#28560899)

    The article talks about targeting aquaculture farmers, but I suppose it is possible the genetically altered tuna could escape into the wild and breed with wild tuna. Assuming the genes will be patented like Monsanto does with seeds, will fishermen be sued for catching such cross bred tuna?

    • Also, how do you aquaculture tuna and keep the meat tasty? The reason tuna is so tasty is because of migrations thousands of miles long- which any aquaculture operation isn't going to have.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Tuna still travel a long distance, they just do it in circles inside the nets. These fish have that high speed swimming need in their very genes a little location issue is not going to stop them.

      • by tpjunkie (911544) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:31PM (#28561595) Journal
        Shouldn't be too much of a problem. Unlike most fish, which are simply capable of ramjet respiration, (where water is forced over and through the fish's gills at high speed through swimming, as opposed to forcing the water over their gills via the mouth and operculum), with tuna this is obligatory, as otherwise the fish cannot obtain enough O2 from the water, and will for lack of a better word, drown. They swim constantly, even while "sleeping"
    • by MoreDruid (584251)
      Only in the USA
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The article talks about targeting aquaculture farmers, but I suppose it is possible the genetically altered tuna could escape into the wild and breed with wild tuna. Assuming the genes will be patented like Monsanto does with seeds, will fishermen be sued for catching such cross bred tuna?

      Unpossible.
      Farmers only get sued because they own & 'control' the fields that Monsanto seeds migrate to.
      There's no way in hell any court will ding you for catching something that escaped into international waters.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:56PM (#28560941)

    Damn, and I thought husbands were already whipped.

  • by Em Emalb (452530) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <blameme>> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @01:56PM (#28560949) Homepage Journal

    It's a tunami!

  • by drDugan (219551)

    People have been altering the genetics of plants and animals for as long as we have practiced agriculture.

    However, doing this with modern techniques can present incredible risks, possibly as large as the risks
    we face from environmental damage. There are significant consequences to altering genomes of existing
    creatures, and mostly, people would try to be as careful as possible. Most all of the changes we've made
    have been exceedingly helpful.

    But there are a few unavoidable truths:

    1- Humans cannot contain na

    • Food availability is the single most important factor that keeps people from starving to death.

      FTFY.

      If that's how you want to control the population, at least be honest about it.

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:30PM (#28561577) Homepage

        Before you get too self-righteous, it's not necessarily quite that simple. First off, scarcity of food may possibly cause people (consciously or unconsciously) to have fewer children. I don't know the science on that one, but it's possible.

        Second, it doesn't mean fewer people starving to death so much as it means more people (perhaps temporarily) not-starving to death-- and there's a difference. The whole point of an argument like the one the GP is making is, if you increase the food supply, the population increases to the point where people start starving to death again. If population growth is otherwise unchecked (e.g. by predators), then a population's numbers will grow until the available resources are not sufficient to support further growth. The two possibilities once that happens is (a) there will be some kind of equilibrium reached; or (b) the population will overuse the existing resources to the point where they basically exterminate themselves.

        Which path do we want to take?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by johnsonav (1098915)

          First off, scarcity of food may possibly cause people (consciously or unconsciously) to have fewer children. I don't know the science on that one, but it's possible.

          It doesn't. Look at the fertility rates in countries where starvation and famine aren't a problem (Western Europe, US, Japan). Then, compare that with the fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

          The whole point of an argument like the one the GP is making is, if you increase the food supply, the population increases to the point where people start starving to death again.

          So, you're saying that no matter how much (or little) food we produce, we'll always have people starving to death?

          If you want mandatory population control, implement a one child policy like China, forced sterilization, or simply shoot the excess people in the head. But seriously, almost anything would be less cruel an

        • by linguizic (806996) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @03:00PM (#28562083)
          Actually, what has been shown is that the more power and education women have in a society, the fewer children. It seems that when given the choice, women only really want to have on average about 2 kids. If we are concerned about population growth then we should be working towards making women everywhere free and educated.
          • That sounds good to me. Believe me, I'm not in favor of people starving to brutal population-control. I think education is generally a terrific force for positive change.

            Really, I'm just saying that the best solutions to poverty and hunger will probably not as simple as increased production. Having more food available won't keep people from going hungry-- at least not all by itself. Continual and poorly considered increases in production will probably lead to increased overall consumption of natural re

        • The problem with applying Malthusian population arguments to human beings is that humans have always distinguished themselves from most other animals by having fewer children than their environment could support at a subsistence level. The resources thus saved are invested in other areas: preparation for the future, peace/civilization, comfort, convenience, etc. Malthusian population dynamics conclude that any population will increase to the maximum possible given the available resources, but that manifestl

          • humans have always distinguished themselves from most other animals by having fewer children than their environment could support at a subsistence level

            Then why are there such food shortages that we have to genetically engineer food to make it more plentiful? If we haven't already surpassed our environment's ability to sustain our current population, then why aren't we already good?

            I know, there's some whacky conspiracy where rich people are all trying to starve everyone. Ok, that's at least plausible. But how is genetically engineered tuna going to fix that?

        • Scarcity of food does not necessarily lead to lower human fertility. You have lots of glaring examples. Just look at the African countries that were starving in the 70s and 80s.
    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      Oh no, it might be dangerous!

      We better not do it then!

      Moan panic aaaah fear shock trauma noooo!

    • Longwinded philosophical post. You've been warned.

      One simple question. Presuming billions of years to 'create' the world and no higher intelligence overseeing at all (not even getting into religion here, just theism vs. atheism): why is human technology (technology coming from presumably evolved intelligence of humans) any different in the evolutionary process? And, if that leads to the destruction of the world, is that not simply evolution taking its due course?

      In other words: if we are simply using the

      • by KingOfGod (884633)

        ...why should we...

        We shouldn't. People just do, because their sense of purpose is driven by that goal.

        Saving the environment is just the same as praying to a god, only different.

      • Remarkably insightful and well said. I marvel at how few people stop to consider that in fact, we are only a part of nature, and are just as likely to change our environment as any of the species who came before us. Maybe that's as it should be.

        I enjoy the many science shows on cable that track the monumental changes that have been documented in the Earth's environment, over and over again. Recurring ice ages, tropical rain forests, migrating continents, reversing magnetic fields, myriad species evolu
    • In many ways TFA sounds a lot like the mentality Monsanto has: make more food for more people with fewer resources. This is completely backwards, and will fail us in a devastating way long term. Food availability is the single most important factor that drives population growth.

      Actually, one thing you overlook is that studies have repeatedly shown that as a population surpasses a certain level of wealth, population growth goes down. This mentality is an attempt to increase the net wealth of human population around the world, so while it will increase food production it will likely, also, reduce population growth.

    • by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:29PM (#28561561) Homepage Journal

      I completely agree.

      Now, having said that, the size of fish (cod definitely, and I would assume tuna as well) has declined due to industrial fishing practices wiping out the larger subspecies entirely and then moving down the chain.

      I can't see any objection to reviving a subspecies that would have existed had sane fishing practices existed - say, by using the same technique as for gene therapy and splicing in genes from extinct varieties - provided it is done with caution.

      It wouldn't matter too much if such a revived subspecies escaped, as the environment has evolved on the basis that it is present. Creatures further up the food chain might start reviving, for example.

      It might also start to deal with "dead zones" (oxygen-free regions in the seas and oceans), which are largely a product of overfishing resulting in excessive algae, the lives, deaths and decaying of which simply eliminates all the oxygen present. Reintroducing a stable, self-sustaining food chain to the oceans would be dangerous but still much safer than the current disaster.

      The problem is, this is NOT what is being done. Instead of recreating a subspecies that should have existed but was obliterated due to the stupidity of the seafood industry, they are creating a whole new subspecies according to market tastes. And when the market shifts (as it routinely does), the old stocks will be worthless and dumped into the wild in an uncontrolled way that has nothing to do with restoring the ecology and everything to do with maximizing profit.

      They are also not going to make any effort to develop anything further up or down the foodchain, which means you'll have something that throws off whatever balance does exist in the current environment.

      Anyone here remember the old ecology computer games, like "foxes and rabbits", where you specify the initial number of each and the available area of grass for the rabbits to feed on? Of those who do, how many of you succeeded in producing stable environments? It turns out that it's damn hard when the number of elements is very small, it's only viable when you've an extremely high level of biodiversity.

      Here we have the three elements of the original game, with the food for the tuna replacing the grass, the tuna being the rabbits and the human consumers being the foxes. If, after all this time, you still can't find good starting numbers, what makes you think the fish markets (who don't give a rat's arse about the environment) are going to do any better?

    • by Xeth (614132)

      Humans cannot contain nature indefinitely - so whatever we create will eventually enter the environment and compete with the existing species.

      We call that evolution.

      Now, that's a glib answer, and it's true that we can't simply excuse away any kind of meddling that way. But you seem to be under the impression that, outside of man's interference, nature is out there standing still. It's not. The world around is is constantly evolving, and genetic patterns are being introduced, flourishing, and failing all the

    • In many ways TFA sounds a lot like the mentality Monsanto has: make more food for more people with fewer resources. This is completely backwards, and will fail us in a devastating way long term. Food availability is the single most important factor that drives population growth.

      Seriously, you do. I'm all in favor of trying to limit population growth, as the earth does have limited resources. Most of Europe has birthrates below replacement level, and I haven't heard of any food shortages over there. But you do realize how lack of food limits population growth right? It's not lower birth rates because people in some of the most food insecure nations of the world have the highest birthrates.

      Starvation. Primarily of those too weak to defend themselves. That means small children, and

      • Most of Europe has birthrates below replacement level, and I haven't heard of any food shortages over there.

        Still, it's not quite so simple. I remember hearing about a study recently that, all around the world, connected lower birthrates strongly with increased consumption of resources. What they found was basically that, if the amount of resources used per-person was figured to be roughly equivalent to what a 1000-pound animal would consume, than they had roughly the same birthrate as a 1000-pound animal. If they consumed resources at the rate of a 2000-pound animal, then they had the birthrate of a 2000-poun

        • by MaizeMan (1076255)
          Well it depends on what the limits are on natural resources, and there is a hope technology can decrease the resources required for a given increase in standard of living.

          Regardless, we're caught between a fixed expenditure situation (increasing the standard of living around the world to the point where population size is static or decreasing), and an ever increasing cost situation where the population continues to increase and resource use also increases regardless of how low the cost per person is.

          I'm n
          • I'm not particularly condoning anything or saying I know the best solution. I'm just saying it's not simple. If you're feeling particularly ready to come down hard on one side of the argument, without considering the fallout of all the various implications, then you probably aren't appreciating the complexity of the problem you're addressing.
    • by WeirdJohn (1170585) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:43PM (#28561807)

      I see potential danger. Tuna are already a highly refined predator. What if the cages break and a group escape? Then you have a disease resistant fast growing population of predators loose in the seas. What could this mean for other species? Could this throw the ecological balance way out of whack?

      I've worked in population modelling in the past, and predator/prey ecology is complicated, chaotic and inherently unpredictable. Forget Lotke-Volterra models, although they are nice equations, they are not realistic in real world situations where there are many species with many interactions. Super-Tuna would be another apex-predator, as nothing else can catch them except humans because they swim so fast. Messing with apex predators ALWAYS does weird stuff to ecology, and it's never good.

    • 1.) True, and they should certainly consider escape into the wild a certainty.

      2.) Factual, but human-modified genes are no more inherently risky then natural mutations - just we do it faster.

      3.) Ah ha! I've got you here - we'll just overfish this particular kind. No limits, nothing. Just give them some obvious mark for ease of sorting, and we'll have no problem hunting them to extinction if we must.

      Your closing paragraph is the worst. It's wrong to improve our food per acre and food per hour of wo
    • Yes, let's all hide under rocks and hope we don't change the world into the bringer of our doom in the process.


      People have been altering the genetics of plants and animals for as long as we have practiced agriculture. ...
      the resulting organism, and the myriad interaction with other species, viruses, and environmental conditions are far too complex for humans predict any outcome reliably. We are blindly stabbing at potentially world-changing effects.

      Genetic research doesn't seem so radically new in that cont

    • by linguizic (806996)

      "Monocultures" increase risk. Even if this program is wildly successful, and they create a huge supply of "perfect" Tuna - they will be a single species, and their success will be a risk - a single other species or virus could wipe them out.

      Yes monocultures are a risk, when you're entire food supply depends on them. I have a feeling that you read the Omnivore's Dilemma and took from it what you wanted to hear rather than reading what Michael Pollan actually said. It wouldn't be the first time someone did that. I've run in to it quite a bit actually. The biggest danger that monoculture presents is when you apply it to the particular link that corn plays in the industrial food chain. If a new disease came around that affected corn, it woul

    • On the American side of the pond few Americans care or think GM is harmful. In Europe almost everyone abhors it. Its gotten bad enough that American grain aid to Dafur and other starving African areas sometimes rots in warehouses because the Euro advisors tell Africans the grainis poisonous.
    • 3- "Monocultures" increase risk. Even if this program is wildly successful, and they create a huge supply of "perfect" Tuna - they will be a single species, and their success will be a risk - a single other species or virus could wipe them out.

      Excellent point. The obvious solution is to create several different species of Super Tuna!

  • super yeast (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Twillerror (536681) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:00PM (#28561063) Homepage Journal

    Can't we start with something simpler and get some super yeast meant for beer!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      What do you want in a beer that you aren't getting? If you bump up the alcohol percentage, it isn't legally a beer anymore, and it seems like you should be able to find something you like given the variety available.

      As far as productivity, hops are a bigger problem than yeast.

    • by jd (1658)

      The closest to "super-yeast" I know of are wine yeasts which go up to somewhere in the 21-24% region. If you use an ale yeast first, to get the right waste products, errr flavour, then restart with something like this to ramp up the neurotoxins, you should be fine.

      However, if you just want regular ale, I would recommend SkullSplitter [wikipedia.org].

  • Tuna Schmoona (Score:2, Informative)

    by Zephiris (788562)

    Even if it lowers the cost, it won't especially matter much, will it? You can't entirely remove tuna from the ecosystem as a consumer, and they get a lot of mercury in their diet, pass it along. Eastern little tuna are lower in mercury according to Wikipedia, but they're specifically mapping and going to be modifying bluefin tuna.

    This doesn't terribly seem like the most sensible idea to invest large amounts of time and money in if it's just going to produce more fish that you can't safely consume greater am

    • I suppose there's no logical reason they couldn't eventually figure out a way to modify the Tuna to be herbivores. The whole reason they have such high mercury levels is they're at the top of a relatively long ocean food chain. Mercury accumulated in higher level predators because they accumulate almost mercury what was in the bodies of whatever they eat, which have in turn accumulated all the mercury from that ever their food ate and so on.

      Of course I have no idea if Tuna raise of soybeans and rice would
  • Sounds great, what could possibly go wrong?

  • Which bands does it receive? Is it a superheterodyne tuna?

  • Cross them?! Cross them with what? Other tuna species? Piranhas? Cmdr Taco?

    Or, make them angry? Why would they be, err... angry, at anything?

  • oblig. (Score:3, Funny)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:14PM (#28561295) Homepage

    Stop having a boring tuna. Stop having a boring life.

    -- Vince 'Slap Chop' Offer

  • Tampering with the genes of the tuna shall only create a monstrous and awesome tuna, and it will writhe and flip all over Tokyo, reducing it to rubble.
  • I thought (Score:3, Funny)

    by auric_dude (610172) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:29PM (#28561565)
    that Green Peace had canned this line of research some time ago?
  • The new breed will grow faster, taste good, have resistance to disease and will totally kick your ass if you cross them.

    Uh, does jabbing them in the mouth with a barbed hook not count as "crossing them?" I don't think that's what the tuna fishermen would want.

  • In Japan... (Score:2, Funny)

    by thervey (1216980)
    In Japan, super tuna eat you!
  • Will they demand the return of their fallen brethren who have already been processed into fast food?
  • Scientists: We created a super strain of tuna that is better in every possible way. Can we release it into the ocean?
    Environmentalists: No.
    Scientists: Please?
    Environmentalists: Will it take over existing species?
    Scientists: Yes but it will also make it easier/cheaper to feed the world population.
    Environmentalists: No.


    Conservation sounds like a good idea and all but how sweet would it be if the ocean was full of super salmon and super tuna that had the qualities mentioned here? If we created a super
    • What if these bigger, faster-growing, tasty tuna just happen to be slow and stupid compared to normal tuna; causing their numbers in the wild to be decimated by natural predators? Or, maybe they're super-sensitive to certain parasites or diseases that ruin their meat. Genetic engineering ain't dustin' crops, boy.
  • but you can't tuna fish.

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