Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Culling the Cane Toads

Throw them in the freezer, hit them with them with a golf club or even poison them, we can't effectively control the Australian Cane Toad population, or can we?

The University of Queensland's molecular bioscience researcher, Professor Peter Koopman, is innovating a strain of “daughterless” cane toads. Wthe females will only give birth to males of the species. And the males thtat are produced via this method will only be able to produce male offspring, and so on. As the generations go on, the effective breeding capacity of the cane toad population will decrease, hopefully till it is all males.

Proffesor Koopman says, “The simplest way of explaining it is that we hope to transplant a ‘gene’ into toads that will cause any female tadpoles they produce to change course and become males.” “We have a clear idea from our research at what molecular point in development you can change sex, and we will apply that knowledge to cane toads to create a ‘switch’ that flicks females back to males.”

Proffesor Koopman is lokking at the Cane Toad equivilant of SRY (Sex-determining Region Y), a sex-determining gene on the Y chromosome in humans and other primates. This intronless gene encodes a transcription factor that is a member of the high mobility group (HMG)-box family of DNA-binding proteins. This protein is the testis-determining factor (TDF), which initiates male sex determination.

Being such a green and humane solution to the problem faced, this method has recieved great support, and shows promise in eliminating the Cane Toads of Australia.


Luke Carpenter

1 comment:

smibill75 said...

Genetic approach will be best but take time.. in the meantime why not kill them electrically with cattle prods or even tazers ? Pick em up in placcy bags like dog poo and then turn into natural fertiliser as we do with carp