Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa have collaborated with scientists in Turkey to produce a pair of rabbits that glow green under a black light.
Using an active transgenesis technique created by medical researchers at UH, the transgenic rabbits were born last week at the University of Istanbul's John A. Burns School of Medicine.
In normal light, the two rabbits look just like their siblings, but under a black light, their jellyfish genes shine through.
A fluorescent protein from jellyfish DNA was injected into the mother rabbit’s embryos in the lab, then the embryos were reinserted into the mother rabbit. Of her litter of eight bunnies, two carried the fluorescent gene.
It may be true that a glowing rabbit would make a fun pet, but scientists say the glow-in-the-dark gene was just an easily observable marker to test their ability to manipulate genes efficiently.
The real goal, they say, is to introduce a beneficial gene into female rabbits, then to collect the protein made in their milk. This approach could lead to new and more efficient ways to produce medicines.
In the Republic of Turkey, the glowing baby bunnies are hometown heroes.
"Our colleagues in Turkey have been so excited by the birth of the transgenic rabbits -- and that excitement has spread to the public through news coverage on Turkish television," said Dr. Moisyadi, a native of Turkey who conducted his graduate studies at UH Mānoa, where he is now an associate professor at the Institute for Biogenesis Research.