Saturday, September 23, 2017

Secrets of Butterfly Wing Patterns Revealed by Gene Hacking

Secrets of Butterfly Wing Patterns Revealed by Gene Hacking

Wing patterns of a normal Sara Longwing butterfly (left) compared to a mutant butterfly generated with CRISPR (right)

Did you ever think how we, as humans evolved into who we are today, or why our anatomy is how it is? A team of researches is on the road to help answer that question. In an article by New Scientist, it describes an experiment done with CRISPR/Cas9  and butterfly wings. This research helps us understand how genetics and evolution shape biodiversity. By using CRISPR/Cas9, a gene editing technique, they removed the WntA gene in multiple species of butterflies. The WntA gene is responsible for the trademark looks on different butterflies. Now think about the role butterfly wings play. They are used for sexual selection, mating and camouflage from predators.  By removing the gene responsible for that, it enabled researches to be able to see the comparison between species and the pattern of evolution. Researcher, Arnaud Martin compared butterfly wings to a blank canvas where patches of cells develop for a specific purpose. This ties into our anatomy. If you look at our brains, it has patterns, how they got there is still unknown. Understanding the development of butterfly wings, we are one step closer to understanding our development.

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