International Symposium on Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Fish

June 21-24, 2010
Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis, Minn.

 Agenda (Updated 6/18/10)
 Information Flyer (Updated 5/19/10)
 Registration (for attendees)
 Registration (for speakers)
 Hotel Reservation

Keynote Speaker

Daniel Simberloff
Daniel Simberloff will be the keynote speaker and he will be talking at a dinner on day 2 of the symposium.


This international symposium will address the potential of genetic biocontrol against established invasive finfish species and the risks associated with its use. The symposium will also consider the potential for control of invasive mussel species. Genetic biocontrol refers to release of genetically manipulated organisms designed to disrupt the survival or reproduction of a targeted invasive species. Genetic biocontrol strategies have the capability to be more effective and targeted than current control methods, all of which have major flaws. Turning genetic biocontrol methods into practical tools, however, requires identifying and successfully addressing obstacles and concerns.

The symposium will assemble over 100 scientists from fish genetics and biotechnology to risk assessment science and ecology, and professionals working in various facets of managing aquatic invasive species. The first day will address the status of genetic biocontrol technologies, including chromosome-based, gene-based, and other targeted methods. Day one will also address combining genetic biocontrol methods with other control methods (e.g., pheromone attractants and mechanical control) to improve control efficiencies; and stakeholder involvement in deliberating this emerging technology. The second day will address scientific risk assessment of these technologies. This will start with an overview of environmental risk assessment and then focus on early steps in risk assessment, including status of the science, research needs, and a methodology for stakeholder deliberation. The third day will address regulatory and economic contexts. Also, participants will meet in small groups to outline research agendas for technology development and for risk assessment. Finally, a subset of participants will meet to integrate break-out group ideas into more complete outlines for peer-reviewed synthesis papers.


This symposium will bring together fisheries managers, industry representatives, and government regulators with experts in all facets of genetic biocontrol, in order to:

  • review the status of genetic biocontrol technologies for aquatic invasive species (with a focus on finfish) and develop a research agenda for future development;
  • consider current methodologies for environmental risk assessment and develop a roadmap for risk assessment of genetic biocontrol of aquatic invasive species;
  • discuss stakeholder involvement in development and assessment of this technology;
  • examine the regulatory context for genetic biocontrol of invasive fishes and mussels; and
  • consider the economics of impacts of aquatic invasive species and of genetic biocontrol technologies.


We will publish a peer-reviewed volume as a special issue of the journal Biological Invasions. This volume will include papers from individual presentations and multi-authored synthesis papers coming out of interactive sessions. We anticipate three synthesis papers:

  • Genetic biocontrol technologies — research and development agenda to achieve aquatic conservation goals;
  • Roadmap for environmental risk assessment and management of genetic biocontrol applications — synthesis of existing knowledge and prioritization of needs; and
  • Regulatory and economic context affecting applications of genetic biocontrol technologies — synthesis of issues and needs.

Participants will also outline the next steps for future collaborations. The intent is to encourage more comprehensive and efficient, longer-term, or larger-scale projects than any single entity can now fund. Synthesis papers will provide decision support for future uses of genetic biocontrol.

Steering Committee

The symposium steering committee has representation from academic, government, and private sectors. The members are listed below along with their position and organizational affiliation.

Anne Kapuscinski (Chair)
Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Sustainability Science, Dartmouth College and Former Sea Grant Extension Specialist in Biotechnology and Aquaculture, University of MInnesota
Dan Ashe
Science Advisor to the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Jim Barrett
Manager of the Native Fish Strategy, Murray-Darling Basin Authority
Robert Clarkson
Fishery Biologist, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Doug Duncan
Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2 (Southwest Region)
Jeff Gunderson
Director and Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension Educator, Minnesota Sea Grant College Program
Mike Hoff
Regional Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 (Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region) and Representative from Mississippi River Basin Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species
K. Bruce Jones
Chief Scientist for Biology, U.S. Geological Survey
Glen Knowles
Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 2 (Southwest Region)
Weiming Li
Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife and of Physiology, Michigan State University
Marshall Meyers
Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Leah Sharpe (Symposium Coordinator)
PhD Candidate, Conservation Biology Graduate Program, University of Minnesota and National Science Foundation IGERT trainee in risk analysis of introduced species and genotypes


This symposium will be interactive in order to maximize scientific exchange, build a shared understanding of the issues, and stimulate new collaborations. Sessions over four days alternate plenary presentations with smaller break out groups.

Presentation Topics

Development of Genetic Biocontrol Technologies

PDF History of Genetic Biocontrol Agents in the Gila River Basin
Paul Barrett, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
PDF Use of Triploidy for Biocontrol of Invasive Species
Tillmann Benfey, University of New Brunswick
PDF Trojan Y Chromosome Strategy for the Eradication of Invasive Fish
John Teem, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture
PDF History of Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Fish
Ron Thresher, CSIRO Australia; Peter Grewe, CSIRO Australia
PDF Gene-based Techniques from Insect Pest Control
Fred Gould, North Carolina State University
PDF Integrated Pest Management of Invasive Fish
Peter Sorensen, University of Minnesota
Do not use any data or cite any information without the author's permission. Peter Sorensen
PDF Gene-based Biocide
Ron Thresher, CSIRO Australia
PDF Public Perspectives on GMO Development
Leah Sharpe, University of Minnesota

Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetic Biocontrol Applications

PDF Colorado River Basin and Their Invasives
Paul Marsh, Marsh and Associates, LLC
PDF Laurentian Great Lakes and Their Invasives
Jeff Gunderson, Minnesota Sea Grant
PDF Mississippi River Basin and Their Invasives
Michael Hoff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
PDF Murray-Darling Basin and Their Invasives
Jim Barrett, Murray-Darling Basin Authority
PDF Ecological Risk Assessment Methodology-Major Steps
Keith Hayes, CSIRO Australia
PDF Early Steps in Environmental Risk Assessment
Anne Kapuscinski, Dartmouth College
PDF Problem Formulation and Options Assessment
Kristen Nelson, University of Minnesota

Keynote Speaker - Daniel Simberloff - Winner of Eminent Ecologist Award from the Ecological Society of America

PDF New Methods Needed, But Will Natural Selection Kill the Trojan Fish?
Daniel Simberloff, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Regulatory and Economic Contexts Affecting Technology Development and ERA

PDF Regulatory Framework for Genetic Biocontrol
Stephanie Showalter, National Sea Grant Law Center
PDF Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Fish-U.S. FWS
Bryan Arroyo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
PDF US FDA Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals
Larisa Rudenko, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine
PDF GMO-Legislation in Australia
Wayne Fulton, CSIRO Australia
PDF Cross-Border Concerns
Kathryn Garforth, Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Canada
PDF Aquatic Invasive Fish Management-MN DNR
Luke Skinner, Invasive Species Program, Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources
PDF Genetic Biocontrol of Invasive Fish-Arizona Game and Fish
Larry Riley, Arizona Game and Fish Department
PDF Economics: Evaluating Market and Non-Market Costs of Invasive Fish
Frances Homans, University of Minnesota


Kapuscinski, A.R. and T. J. Patronski. 2005. Genetic Methods for Biological Control of Non-native Fish in the Gila River Basin. Contract report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. MN Sea Grant Publication F 20. 100 p. Available at

Thresher, R.E. 2008. Autocidal technology for the control of invasive fish. Fisheries 33(3):114-121.

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