January 9, 2008 / 12:55 AM / 12 years ago

China rings out year of fluorescent green pigs

Two piglets, which were given birth to by a transgenic pig, are irradiated by ultraviolet radiation to show their green fluorescent protein (GFP) feature at a pigpen in Harbin, Heilongjiang province January 7, 2008. The transgenic pig gave birth to 11 piglets on Monday, China Daily said. Picture taken January 7, 2008. REUTERS/China Daily

BEIJING (Reuters) - A fluorescent green Chinese pig has given birth to two piglets which share their mother’s transgenic characteristic after she mated with an ordinary pig, state media said.

The mother sow is one of the three fluorescent green pigs successfully bred by a research team in December 2006 after they injected fluorescent green protein into pig embryos.

“The mouths, trotters and tongues of the two piglets glow green under ultraviolet light, which indicates the technology to breed transgenic pigs via cell nuclear transfer is mature,” Liu Zhonghua, a professor at Northeast Agricultural University in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, was quoted as saying.

She produced 11 piglets on Monday but so far only two of them had inherited the fluorescent feature.

“This technology promises to breed excellent transgenic pigs and even raise special pigs to provide organs for human transplant operations in the future,” Liu was quoted as saying.

Chinese scientists bred the pigs using somatic cell nuclear transfer technology following similar successes in the United States, South Korea and Japan.

China celebrates the start of the Year of the Rat in February, drawing a close to the Year of the Pig.

Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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