Jump to content

    If You  want access  to member only forums on FM, You will need to Sign-in or  Sign-Up now .

    This box will disappear once you are signed in as a member.

UofM Solution to Invasive Carp?

Recommended Posts

The Star Tribune had a very  interesting story today about a research student at the U working on a project to genetically modify the DNA in male carp to create a fish whose sperm would destroy the eggs of female carp during spawning. As far as I can tell, it would be used to target invasive carp. The story made it sound like there would be very few, if any, drawbacks - but I don't know how I feel about it...when you start editing DNA and messing with the natural order of things it seems like there could be unintended consequences. Just thought I'd post it here as I'd curious what other sportsman think of it:




Solution for a scourge? University of Minnesota scientist is progressing with carp-killer tool

DNA-altering project is gaining attention as potential advance against invasive carp. 


Sam Erickson followed his love of science to outer space one summer during an internship at NASA. He came away fascinated by seeing into deep space by interpreting interaction between matter and infrared radiation.

Now a full-fledged researcher at the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences, the 25-year-old Alaska native is immersed in something far more earthly: killing carp. His fast-moving genetic engineering project is drawing attention from around the country as a potential tool to stop the spread of invasive carp.


“I want to make a special fish,” Erickson said in a recent interview at Gortner Laboratory in Falcon Heights.


In short, he plans to produce batches of male carp that would destroy the eggs of female carp during spawning season. The modified male fish would spray the eggs as if fertilizing them. But the seminal fluid — thanks to DNA editing — would instead cause the embryonic eggs to biologically self-destruct in a form of birth control that wouldn’t affect other species nor create mutant carp in the wild.


His goal is to achieve the result in a controlled setting using common carp. From there, it will be up to federal regulators and fisheries biologists to decide whether to translate the technology to constrain reproduction of invasive carp in public waters.


“What we’re developing is a tool,” Erickson said. “If we could make this work, it would be a total game-changer.”


Supervised by University of Minnesota assistant professor Michael Smanski, Erickson recently received approval to accelerate his project by hiring a handful of undergraduate assistants. He also traveled last month to Springfield, Ill., to present his research plan to the 2020 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference.


“We’re pretty excited about where his project is at,” said Nick Phelps, director of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the U. “Things are sure moving fast. There’s excitement and caution.”


Erickson’s research has received funding from Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. No breeding populations of invasive carp have been detected in Minnesota, but the Department of Natural Resources has confirmed several individual fish captures and the agency has worked to keep the voracious eaters from migrating upstream from the lower Mississippi River. Silver carp, bighead carp and other Asian carps pose a threat to rivers and lakes in the state because they would compete with native species for food and habitat.


Erickson views his birth control project as one possible piece in the university’s integrated Asian carp research approach to keep invasive carp out of state waters. Already the DNR has supported electric barriers and underwater sound and bubble deterrents at key migration points. Another Asian carp-control milestone was closing the Mississippi River lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis in 2015.


‘Shooting star’

Growing up in Anchorage, Erickson had never heard of Macalester College in St. Paul. But he visited the campus at the urging of a friend and felt like he fit in. He majored in chemistry and worked for a year at 3M in battery technology. But his interests tilted toward the natural world and how to “better live in cooperation with nature,” he said. Erickson met with Smanski about research opportunities at the university and was hired on the spot.


Smanski, one of the university’s top biological engineers, said carp is not an easy organism to work with and Erickson lacked experience in the field. But he hired the young researcher and assigned him to the carp birth control project because he seemed to have a rare blend of determination and intelligence.


“I could tell right away when I was talking to him that he was like a shooting star,” Smanski said. “If you set a problem in front of him, he won’t stop until he solves it … He’s taken this farther than anyone else.”

In two short years, Smanksi said, Erickson has mastered genetic engineering to the point that his research is starting to bear fruit.


With his new complement of research assistants, Erickson aims to clear his project’s first major hurdle sometime this year. The challenge is to model his experiment in minnow-sized freshwater zebrafish. The full genetic code of zebrafish — like common carp — is already known.


Erickson’s task is to make a small change to the DNA sequence of male zebrafish, kind of like inserting a DNA cassette into the fish, he said. During reproduction, the alteration will create lethal overexpression of genes in the embryonic eggs laid by females.

By analogy, Erickson said, the normal mating process is like a symphony with a single conductor turning on genes inside each embryo, Erickson said. But the DNA modification sends in a mess of conductors and the mixed signals destroy each embryo within 24 hours.


“In the lab we have to make sure we’re causing the disruption with no off-target effects,” he said. “If we can do this in zebrafish, we hope to translate it. … They are genetically similar to carp.”

Erickson’s upcoming experimentation with tank-dwelling live carp could be painfully slow because the fish only mate once a year. But he’s working his way around that problem by altering lighting conditions and changing other stimuli in his lab to stagger when batches of fish are ready to reproduce.


The birth control process — projected to be affordable for fisheries managers if it receives approval — is already proven to work in yeast and insects. And Erickson said the same principles of molecular genetics have been used to create an altered, fast-growing version of Atlantic salmon approved for human consumption in the U.S.


“We’re not building a new carp from the bottom up … but it’s kind of a whole new paradigm, so we have to get it done right,” he said.

  • Wow, ❤ 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • opsirc
      By opsirc
      I have noticed that East of Adrian's rd after crossing pine Island a mile or so is a second road that runs closer to the border. Anyone know who it belongs to, there seems to be a great deal of traffic on it and I have looked to see if it comes off Adrian's but can't find how to access it. Does sportmans have one out that way?
    • whateverisbiting
      By whateverisbiting
      My buddy was on a dusk / night crappie bite so I joined him for a couple days of fun.  He has been getting increasingly good with a smoker and said he has caught a few whitefish in past years and would love to catch a few for the smoker.  Ironically, on the second day I saw a fish on the Markum a few feet under the ice and I recognized this from other catches as a potential white fish.  I brought it up an nabbed a nice one.  This got me thinking.  Anyone know why white fish cruise so close to the top of the ice?  Do minnows also cruise up high or is this a plankton thing?  Or both?  The crappies were either at 10' or on the bottom at 20'.  We did catch one crappie also at 5' but in two nights of fishing that was the only two fish marking that high.
    • black otter
      By black otter
      Maybe a dumb ? 
      Just got a used tandem axle ice castle. When lowering...which axle pin should be removed first? The one closest to front of fish house, or the one closest to the crank? Or does it not matter? 
    • eyeguy 54
      By eyeguy 54
      What’s your rod box. I grabbed a Flambeau today to upgrade since a good buddy made me a 36 inch ice rod. I added foam to the bottom and took out the dividers and it looks like it will work dandy. Got them all in and some boxes for different plastics.  Won’t know till it warms up!  All snug when I close it up. 

    • monstermoose78
      By monstermoose78
      I have boxes of 40 cal HST rounds 50 per box and I am trying to figure out what I should charge from them?
    • Rick G
      By Rick G
      Well, hope the title made you look😁. Getting real sick of the frozen tundra feel that has engulfed our neck of the woods the last week.  This kinda weather ain't much fun to be outside for more than a few min at a time... Starting to go a little crazy sitting around instead of being on the ice😒 Anybody making it out? 
    • eyeguy 54
      By eyeguy 54
      There are a few organizations out there that offer a lot of fun outdoor fish and hunt trips at no or close to no cost. I have been on a few so thought I would share. Not all are for LEO.   Info on trips is always on FB.  2020 was not as busy but its starting to pick up again. Fishing with Vets.  Hometown Hero Outdoors Community.  Take a Vet Fishing. Time on the Water. We Got Your Six Outdoor Adventures. A lot of great people doing this and have met some really nice people. 
    • gimruis
      By gimruis
      Another proposal to ban certain items of lead in fishing tackle has been introduced.  I think this came to a bubble in 2018 when they tried to do it plus banning lead ammo on public lands.  The current proposal does not include ammo (as far as I can tell) and only applies to jigs and sinkers less than 2.5 inches in length.  In 2018 it did not pass.  If passed, it would take effect July 1, 2025.
    • ozzie
      By ozzie
      So now that there are many options out there, what are people thinking on the new electric augers?  I have been impressed with the drill attached augers that I have used this year and also the Strikemaster 40v electric auger.  For next year I will certainly be investing into one of these options as they are so powerful, quiet, and dont use gas!!!  I now have used a kdrill and Strikemaster drill attachments and both are nice but the strikemaster rips throught the ice faster than the kdrill IMO.  I love how I don't need to worry about gas spilling onto by ice suit and don't need to worry where the exhaust is!!  The one thing I found using a drill is they are very powerful and that you do not want to stop mid hole and try to restart as you may end up with a broken arm the way the thing grips!!!! (Lucky I didn't break my arm!)  It appears Millwaukee and Dewalt are the most common Drills I have seen used for the auger attachments.  I am leaning towards a drill attachment combo rather than one of the electric models as I just don't see the reason why I would go that route and have an auger that can only be used for an auger where the drill set up I still have a powerful drill to use on projects around the house.
      What are some pro's and con's you all have come up with since using the electric augers and or the drill attachments augers opposed to a gas auger?
    • leech~~
      By leech~~
      Anyone with a current ice-slush-pressure ridge report from Pelican Breezy Point area?
      Thanks. 👍
  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • smurfy
      Thinking I'm going to check out rice lake this week. Crappie palozza
    • IceHawk
      Very detailed and Great Report Rick! Way to grind and think outside the box 👍
    • IceHawk
    • Luzaich
      Just made a new post for 2021.. Won’t be long!
    • Luzaich
      It’s coming fast! I’m guessing March 26th for birchdale
    • Rick G
    • Rick G
      Got into a few good ones myself yesterday, the front coming in really caused the big ones the put the feed bag on for the day
    • Rick G
      Good Job Grandpa!!!!
    • Rick G
      With the incoming low pressure system we had coming in yesterday, I figured the fish would be snapping... They didn't disappoint😉. I started off the morning in 12-14 ft of water off a long shoreline flat. The Vexilar was lit up like a Christmas 🎄... Unfortunately, most of the fish were smaller bluegills with some very nice crappies hanging together. The trick was to drop my bait down, and if I don't get a crappie to race up within about 30-45 seconds and slam my bait, the bluegills would rush in to steal my offering.  This meant a heck of a lot of hole hopping, I bet I looked nuts jumping from hole to hole like a mad man🤣 By noon the crappies had totally left the area I was in, or so I thought.  I spent the next two hours drilling holes, up and down the shoreline, shallow and deep, all but the baby bluegills were missing, even the bass that roam the area quit biting.   I was just about ready to pack up and change lakes when I figured I'd drill a couple more holes super shallow, just for the hell of it... I drilled three holes that were 2-4ft deepish from bottom of the ice.  I dropped the camera down, because it was too shallow to use the Vexilar effectively, to my surprise the crappies had indeed moved through the weedline, to shallow pockets clear of vegitation . For the next two hours I fished between these super shallow holes, the crappies and a few nice bluegills were very aggressive and most hooked them selfs because they bit so hard. They were spooky though,  I found if I moved too much or made even a little noise, the fish would spook and it would take a few min to come back.   I started off the day using a jointed pinhead minnow to catch the deeper fish. The pinhead has become my go-to when on aggressive crappies or when working an area fast.  A insect mimicking bait definitely was key once they moved to the skinny water.   First pic was best of morning, sunny and beautiful out, I think I even got a little sunburn...lol Second pic was best one of the afternoon, after it became overcast
    • opsirc
      I have noticed that East of Adrian's rd after crossing pine Island a mile or so is a second road that runs closer to the border. Anyone know who it belongs to, there seems to be a great deal of traffic on it and I have looked to see if it comes off Adrian's but can't find how to access it. Does sportmans have one out that way?
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.