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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CRISPR helps evo-devo scientists to unpick the origins of adaptions

Editorial Comment
Originally published August 17, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

The field of evolutionary developmental biology — evo-devo — is full of such creations: from mice with longer, bat-like limbs to fruit flies with torsos segmented like beetles’. But until now, the brute tools used to create these creatures have been imperfect.

This is about to change. In a paper published online on 17 August, a team used CRISPR–Cas9 to inactivate the genes involved in zebrafish development, resulting in fin tips more like the feet and digits of land vertebrates (T. Nakamura et al. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature19322; 2016). Other recent CRISPR experiments have tinkered with butterflies to learn how they see more colours than flies do, and done away with crustaceans’ claws to understand the origin of these specialized appendages.

The article is here.