Recollections of George Streisinger
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Roger Hawthorne of the Albany (OR) Aquarium helped George Streisinger obtain the first zebrafish that he used in his research. In email communications, Roger relayed his memories of those first years of zebrafish research:
George Streisinger and
the Beginnings of Zebrafish as a Research Model
by Roger Hawthorne (Albany Aquarium)
George Streisinger was adamant about obtaining pure strains of zebrafish. The first ones that he purchased for his research, his "A" strain, was Fh3 - Fh5 from our hatchery, then Pacific Northwest Fisheries, not from Florida breeders as commonly believed. We had originally obtained the stock in about 1965, from Loui Kueng (Louie King) of Kowloon Hong Kong, and had maintained 3 to 5 generations at our hatchery when George obtained them. These first zebrafish were a rather small, regular fish. George’s second strain was the 'B’ strain which George obtained from an associate of Rodney Jonklaus, primarily a saltwater shipper to Europe in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). These ‘B’ strain fish were collected in the wilds in India and shipped with some other fishes to Sunrise Fish Farm in Singapore (the site of the current runway extension) and then shipped to LAX and brokered by Steve Starr of Inglewood CA. These were a very large, well-colored fish that were nearly 50% larger than the standard zebrafish in the trade. They had better color in the larger finnage and were marked with more yellow, even in the females. Their fins were less pointed and more rounded. The body had an overall blue cast. These fish pleased George immensely.
We also shipped in a so-called 'Albino' strain from Anzan Young at Union Aquarium in Hong Kong. These turned out to be only a 'golden' variety of small, anemic fishes. George was disappointed in them, but got them anyway.
I feel that the possibility of obtaining the Albinos was the deciding factor in choosing the zebrafish as his research model. I had recommended the Tans Mountain Fish (Whitecloud), as it was so similar to the zebrafish but could hatch well and grow at 60 - 85o F. Heated rooms were not necessary. But, the 'Meteoer' (longfin) Whitecloud was behind the Iron Curtain and was, at that time, impossible to obtain.
We have kept the 'B' strain going, but in doing so, have lost 75% of the blue and yellow coloring and possibly 20% of the size. I do have some old slides of these fish and possibly some of George at our shop when he opened the shipment containing the "so-called" Albinos. That shop was at 732 West Queen St. in Albany, Oregon. George was kind enough to come to Albany to answer questions I had about replicating female fishes with 2537 uv used only to super-clean water containing the row and sperm. He purchased his fish from me because he knew I had a fairly clean strain, and the ability to obtain Albinos and wild F1 stock.
It is an enormous shame he is not here in person to see how this thing has grown. I do not believe he ever dreamed it would catch on as well as it has. George was a quiet man around me, most attentive and patient. He got very excited at times, but was always well composed.
Now, I do believe some people from India had some records on the fish that we ordered, and the 'NOVA' television program on PBS in the 1970's should have some historical data. He was on one of their episodes. I remember that the crew spoke German or what sounded German to me. Seems George was fluent in that. I believe that the NOVA program was on the replication of the fish from the female side alone for a research strain. Replication was my term as nothing showed from the male's side. I am not sure if he used the term clone or not. That may have come later. You must realize that I did not understand a great deal of what he so carefully explained to me. It was a new language where I would be required to look up every other word or term. And too, I felt many terms and words were so new for such new research that I wouldn't find the proper meaning, anyway. I did not see the NOVA program. It'd be nice if that old show could be dug up. I kinda miss George's voice.
Compilation of emails from Roger