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Researchers explore viability of mackerel mothers for bluefin tuna

January 27, 2015  By Quentin Dodd

In Japan for many years considerable effort has gone into spawning, rearing and growing out Bluefin tuna in an attempt to alleviate pressure on (and indeed conserve) this valuable fishery.

         To this end an associate professor at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology has been looking into the possibility of having mature female mackerel act as surrogate mothers to produce Bluefin tuna offspring.

Dr Goro Yoshizaki began looking into the idea of tuna surrogacy by injecting stem cells into the gonads of mackerel, which have similar DNA. The idea is that by taking the genetic blueprint from one fish and inserting it into the reproductive organs of another, these cells will be reproduced.

          There are a lot of mackerel in the oceans and they reach maturity much faster than tuna. If the surrogate program could be made to work, the mackerel could possibly produce a significant number of bluefin eggs. The ultimate goal would be to produce juvenile tuna from these eggs that would be released into the ocean.


Yoshizaki is reported to have been working on the surrogacy project for about ten years, and though he has had some success, he has yet to achieve a successful tuna spawning from a surrogate mackerel mother. This is going to take some time —something the bluefin don’t have a lot of.

— Quentin Dodd

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