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Trends Biotechnol. 2006 Feb;24(2):89-97. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

Interface of biotechnology and ecology for environmental risk assessments of transgenic fish.

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 4160 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, British Colombia, V7V 1N6, Canada.


Genetically engineered fish with enhanced phenotypic traits have yet to be implemented into commercial applications. This is partly because of the difficulties in reliably predicting the ecological risk of transgenic fish should they escape into the wild. The ecological consequences of the phenotypic differences between transgenic and wild-type fish, as determined in the laboratory, can be uncertain because of genotype-by-environment effects (GXE). Additionally, we are limited in our ability to extrapolate simple phenotypes to the complex ecological interactions that occur in nature. Genetic background can also shape the phenotypic effects of transgenes, which, over time and among different wild populations, can make risk assessments a continuously evolving target. These uncertainties suggest that assessments of transgenic fish in contained facilities need to be conducted under as wide a range of conditions as possible, and that efficacious physical and biological containment strategies remain as crucial approaches to ensure the safe application of transgenic fish technology.

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