Scientists have analyzed butterfly wings, tweaking painting genes to alter their colors and patterns. The study hones its focus on explaining how ‘rules of lie’ evolution and genetics change biodiversity.
The research team used the useful gene-editing method, CRISPR/Cas9 to examine the function the WntA gene in making the butterfly wing, which is one of the biggest nature’s artworks. By extracting the gene from seven distinct species of butterfly, the study team could alter the appearance of the insect radically. The colors and patterns of the wings changed in unexpected ways.
The study showed how WntA played a master gene role in the trademark appearance of various butterflies.
The lead author, Arnaud Martin, from George Washington University stated that they understand the reason behind the different color patterns of the butterflies’ wings. It’s often for sexual selection, seeking a mate, or protecting themselves from predators.
The big question lies in how they do this; how they make stripes, dots, and complexity? And again, how do you make the model a given feature over a long evolutionary period? Martin answered that the CRISPR allowed them not just to define that gene has evolved several roles within a single species, but caused an evident comparison between different species, and showed that evolution pattern had been made up of variations on a common theme.
Over 20,000 different butterfly species live in the world
The researchers targeted and deactivated the WntA gene in butterflies before analyzing the effect from the caterpillar stage through to its adulthood. According to the researchers, the findings could help in studying several other species, even human beings.
Martin went on to say their research is basic and hones its focus on understanding where and how we come to be. The butterfly wings started off as a blank canvas that allows cell development for unique purposes, and such can be seen in human beings. To achieve more complex brains, there’s the need to make patterns, but the method of these pattern development isn’t too clear, and the butterflies come in handy here.
The technology adopted by CRISPR aims at giving gene editing a new face. Some scientists are conducting experiments, altering the genes of human embryos, with the hope of preventing genetic illness.