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Transgenic Zebrafish for Environmental Sensing


Scientists from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences are developing a breed of zebra fish that can detect water pollutants by changing colour. The team of biologists, headed by Associate Professor Gong Zhiyuan, aims to produce commercially viable zebra fish that can be used as pollutant indicators. This transgenic fish, bred successfully through genetic engineering, is a simple alternative to complicated pollutant-testing systems....

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 Colored transgenic zebrafish 


These colorful fish were created in the laboratory of Prof Gong Zhiyuan in the Department of Biological Sciences. In order to effect their radical color change in response to the environment, Gong's group engineered the fish to express fluorescent proteins under the control of different inducible gene promotors. Estrogen and stress responsive promotors were used to detect environmental estrogen and heavy metals/toxins, respectively. These dual sensitivities are useful for water quality monitoring. Prof Gong's group is also exploring the utility of the fish as a model for translational research and drug development, particularly as a model for liver disease.

Visit Prof Gong's research group


In development of this technology, numerous strains of non color changing fluorescent zebrafish were also created. NUS was able to successfully market these glowing fish to aquarium enthusiasts through the Glofish startup venture.