Here's how butterflies eyespots evolved

A team of researchers from Cornell University claim that genome editing in butterflies has helped to reveal that how did they get their eyespots.

Updated: Jun 16, 2016, 10:27 AM IST
Here's how butterflies eyespots evolved

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Did any one of us ever wonder that how butterflies got their showy eyespots on the wings? Actually not.

A team of researchers from Cornell University claim that genome editing in butterflies has helped to reveal that how did they get their eyespots.

By altering one or two genes, researchers have managed to change the patterns on a butterfly's wings.

It is a major clue to understand how the butterflies have evolved and perhaps to how color patterns and other patterns and shapes have evolved in other species.

By using the new method of CRISPR genome editing, researchers cut out a gene known as spalt, and produced a butterfly lacking the large round markings known as eyespots.

In another experiment, they removed a gene known as distal-less and produced more and larger eyespots. The experiments also produced changes in other parts of the wing design.

The distal-less gene in particular revealed itself as a jack-of-all-trades gene that plays roles in shaping several parts of the body.

Deleting it not only caused the butterfly to have extra eyespots, but to have shorter legs and antennae.

Butterfly wing patterns are of special interest to evolutionary biologists because they provide an easily accessible model of how natural selection chooses from many possible variations. "Variation is the raw material of evolution," researcher Robert Reed said.

CRISPR genome editing technology offers great potential for understanding how this variation originates he added.

(With ANI inputs)