Scientists create fluorescent fish to help tackle pollution

The zebrafish glows when affected by certain chemicals Credit: ITV West Country

Scientists at Exeter University have invented a type of glow in the dark fish. They actually turn flourescent but only if water is polluted. The research could help ensure measures are taken to improve water quality in rivers and lakes and also play an important part in medical research as well.

Richard Lawrence tells us more.

Zebrafish are known for their stripes, but should there be something fishy in the water (so to speak), these particular fish will glow instead. They've had genetic material added to their eggs. The glowing ingredient came from jellyfish.

PhD student Dr Okhyun Lee discovered the fluorescent colour appeared in direct response to hormone-related chemicals in water so she put it to the test at points where treated water from sewage works is pumped back into rivers.

You could say the break-through is important as the discovery that lead to canaries being taken to coal mines to check for gas.

While testing water quality is a great use, the images also show which organs in the fish could be affected by the pollutants and therefore, humans too.

More research is needed to see whether the zebrafish will respond to other chemicals in the same way. Who knows, we could have a lot to thank them for in the future.