Washington Papa salmon plus mama salmon equals ... baby trout?
Japanese researchers put a new spin on surrogate parenting as they engineered one fish species to produce another, in a quest to preserve endangered fish.
Idaho scientists begin the next big step next month, trying to produce a type of salmon highly endangered in that state - the sockeye - this time using more plentiful trout as surrogate parents.
The new method is "one of the best things that has happened in a long time in bringing something new into conservation biology," said University of Idaho zoology professor Joseph Cloud, who is leading the U.S. government-funded sockeye project.
The Tokyo University inventors dubbed their method "surrogate broodstocking." They injected newly hatched but sterile Asian masu salmon with sperm-growing cells from rainbow trout - and watched the salmon grow up to produce trout.
The striking success, published in today's edition of the journal Science, is capturing the attention of conservation specialists, who say new techniques are badly needed. Captive breeding of endangered fish is difficult, and attempts to freeze fish eggs for posterity so far have failed.