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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 2;101(9):2934-8. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

Transgenic male mating advantage provides opportunity for Trojan gene effect in a fish.

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  • 1Departments of Biological Sciences, Forestry and Natural Resources, and Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


Genetically modified (GM) strains now exist for many organisms, producing significant promise for agricultural production. However, if these organisms have some fitness advantage, they may also pose an environmental harm when released. High mating success of GM males relative to WT males provides such an important fitness advantage. Here, we provide documentation that GM male medaka fish modified with salmon growth hormone possess an overwhelming mating advantage. GM medaka offspring possess a survival disadvantage relative to WT, however. When both of these fitness components are included in our model, the transgene is predicted to spread if GM individuals enter wild populations (because of the mating advantage) and ultimately lead to population extinction (because of the viability disadvantage). Mating trials indicate that WT males use alternative mating tactics in an effort to counter the mating advantage of GM males, and we use genetic markers to ascertain the success of these alternative strategies. Finally, we model the impact of alternative mating tactics by WT males on transgene spread. Such tactics may reduce the rate of transgene spread, but not the outcome.

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