Daughterless carp project revived

THE decision to axe the daughterless carp project, a program developed to potentially eradicate introduced carp from Australia’s inland waters, has been overturned thanks to renewed funding from the Lower Murray Darling Catchment Management Authority (LMD CMA).

For the last ten years, researchers have been developing genetic options for the control and possible eradication of carp in Australia.

“Daughterless technology” aims to alter carp such that they produce mainly male offspring, over the long term, driving the pest to extinction as females become increasingly rare in the population.

Laboratory studies on zebra-fish (a small, short-lived relative of carp) show that daughterless technology is achievable, but a key question is whether the approach will work in carp.

With the support of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), in 2009 a collaborative project with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC), CSIRO and Auburn University (USA) was initiated to answer this question. However, funding waswithdrawn earlier this year as part of research rationalisation. The LMD CMA has since stepped in and provided just under $60,000 in funding to the IACRC to continue this critical research into daughterless carp.

The first carp produced as part of the research are now maturing, and preliminary data from them strongly suggest that the daughterless constructs are working as planned. However, until the constructs are incorporated into the fish’s genes and passed onto their offspring (which should be predominantly males) the success of the project will not be known. It will take several additional years to complete this analysis as carp take at least two years to reach sexual maturity.

LMD CMA Chair Cheryl Rix said “Our Catchment Action Plan has targets relating to the health of the native fish population and carp have been identified as one of the most significant barriers toward achieving these targets. This has been particularly evident over the past 2-3 years with major increases in carp abundance observed during the LMD CMA annual fish monitoring program.”

The potential of daughterless carp technology was recognised by the LMD CMA who in June this year agreed to provide funding to the IACRC to continue daughterless carp research for a further 12 months.

“This LMD CMA funding will ensure that newly maturing carp will be able to breed and the next stage of the research on the second generation of carp can continue. Without the LMD CMA’s intervention the research would have ceased and more than 5000 juvenileand newly maturing carp produced so far would have been destroyed,” Ms Rix said.

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