Monday, November 23, 2020

Evolutionary Origin of Skin Colors Revealed by Genetic Mutation in Snakes


    They found a genetic mutation in a corn snakes that gives a lavender pigment in their scales. The skin color of vertebrates depends on chromatophores. This specific type of color variation is a dull color of the lavender variation. This is caused by a mutation in a gene involved in forming lysosomes. This single mutation can affect all skin color, which shows that the reflective crystals and pigments are stored in the lysosome. The chromatophores are what determine the skin color due to the pigment and reflected crystals that reflects lights. In which their are three types of  chromatophores which are melanophores, xanthophores, and iridophores. The melanophores are responsible for the black and brown colors, xanthophores are responsible for red and yellow color, and iridophores are the crystals that reflect multiple colors. The lavender mutation contains a pink coloration with grey spots and this mutation is due to a single gene in the LYST gene. This gene regulates the trafficking of lysosomes. Scientists studied the snakes main their hepatocytes which are contained in the main liver. Hepatocytes are the main cells of the livers which are in charge of metabolic, endocrine and secretion functions. The scientists found that the hepatocytes in lavender snakes are contained more aggressive lysosomes which will give the lavender skin color.  I was really in to this article because there's been a lot of studies done on snakes on their scale colors. Snakes have a lot of different alleles that control their scale colors. To know that another color was created due to a mutation I think its pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. With experience in breeding reptiles, specifically ball pythons, this is really interesting to see with regards to color. Various genes have specific impact on the color and intensity as well as pattern, and its very interesting to see the combinations of genes. While some specific breeds and combinations of color seem to be incomplete dominance other, while being recessive share a lot of changes on the patterns and overall colors of the snakes. It is really cool in the aesthetic effect of these genes and also the specific pattern genes that are known to cause adverse effects to the snakes behavior (spider ball python wobble). It will be really interesting to see when and if the actual genomes of these color mutations in snakes is further researched, and what the knowledge based on the allele will allow for breeders to accomplish in the future.