Saturday, August 21, 2010
August 21, 2010 : Ocean Pout
The ocean pout (Zoarces americanus) is an eelpout in the family Zoarcidae. It is found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of New England and eastern Canada. The fish has antifreeze proteins in its blood, giving it the ability to survive in near-freezing waters.
Scientists have done studies wherein genes are taken from the ocean pout and implanted into salmon in an attempt to make the latter grow faster. Use of the promoter region from the ocean pout antifreeze protein gene, which regulates when and where the gene will be expressed, allows for the growth hormone gene it is attached to in transgenic salmon to be continually expressed, theoretically allowing for continuous production of growth hormone and thus, bigger fish faster. Controversy has arisen, as some view the altered fish as a potential threat to ordinary salmon if it is ever allowed to enter the wild. Nationwide, chefs, grocers and others have agreed not to sell the new fish over these concerns, though the fish is believed to be safe for human consumption.
In June 2006 the Unilever company announced that it would use genetically modified yeast to grow antifreeze proteins based on a gene from the ocean pout, and use it to improve the consistency and storage properties of its ice cream brands.