Scientists use CRISPR to tweak butterfly wing color, change wing scale surface structure, Scienmag, 4 July 2018

ScienMag carried an article on the research by Yale-NUS Associate Professor of Science (Biology) Antónia Monteiro, together with her postdoctoral fellow Yuji Matsuoka, to modify both colour and morphology (physical characteristics) of a butterfly’s wing scales. The researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to tweak wing colours of the squinting bush brown butterfly of East Africa Bicyclus anynana and found that it resulted in changes to the scales’ surface structure and rigidity, as well as colour, showing how pigmentation genes have dual roles in the formation of wing scales. Speaking about the possible applications of her research, Assoc Prof Monteiro said that understanding the developmental genetics of colour might allow biotech companies of the future to generate vivid, brilliant colours via bioengineering, based on butterfly scales, rather than having to nano-manufacture them using metals, which is currently extremely difficult to do. “These chitin-based colors would be lasting, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly,” said Assoc Prof Monteiro. Assistant Professor of Science (Biology) William Piel was credited together with Assoc Prof Monteiro for the attached photograph illustrating the differences in colouration between two Bicyclus anynana butterflies, one wildtype and one with a mutation which made its wings yellow. The study, published in the journal Cell Reports, was funded by the Singapore Ministry of Education and the LHK fund from the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore. Similar articles were carried by Silicon RepublicEurekAlert, the Daily Mail Online, Phys.Org, BrightSurf, SciMex, and EuropaPress (Spanish)

Click here for full article