According to the study conducted by the Japanese universities of Nagoya and Kyoto, entitled Electric organ discharge from electric eel facilitates DNA transformation into teleost larvae in laboratory conditions, and published in PeerJ Life and Environment, eels can transfer DNA through their own electricity.
Such transfer can genetically modify small fish larvae. The team, led by Eiichi Hondo and Atsuo explained: "Cells can incorporate fragments of DNA into water, known as environmental DNA. The electric eel's discharge promoted the transfer of genes to cells, even though eels have different shapes of pulses and unstable voltage compared to machines usually used in electroporation.
Electric eels and other organisms that generate electricity could influence genetic modification in nature."
Electric eels can transmit organic materials: what scientists think about
Tadej Kotnik, a biomedical engineer at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, said: "It is unclear whether genetically modified zebrafish larvae can pass on the acquired genes to their offspring.
This is unlikely because the DNA degrades rapidly, but it is not impossible In nature, this could mean that electric eel discharges could possibly generate new species or increase diversity. I thought electroporation might occur in nature.
I realized that electric eels in the Amazon River could serve as a source of energy, organisms living in the surrounding area could act as recipient cells, and environmental DNA fragments released into the water would become foreign genes, causing genetic recombination in the surrounding organisms due to electrical discharges." Sarah Kuta said about the research: "The study has limitations, for example, it was conducted in the lab, not in nature, but the researchers say their findings suggest that eels can cause electroporation.
In theory, that means that Electric eels could contribute to the genetic modification of other wild species. Organisms that swim or float near the eels could evolve in unexpected ways as a result of this process."