The first genetically modified squid are born transparent after scientists “kill” the pigmentation gene in embryos that control the color of the eyes and skin cells
- For the first time in history, scientists have modified a squid embryo
- The team pigmentation genes in Doryteuthis pealeii, which makes it transparent
- This will allow researchers to study the creature’s unique system
For the first time in history, scientists have genetically altered squid embryos by removing the pigmentation gene that led to transparent creatures.
The team used CRISPR-Cas9 to “knock out” the gene in Doryteuthis pealeii and in turn eliminated staining from the eyes and skin cells.
The procedure involved cutting the healthy outer layer of the egg with micro-scissors and delivering the reagents inside the embryo.
Cephalopods, which include squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have been a mystery to researchers because their nervous systems are capable of camouflage – but the breakthrough must “address many biological issues.”
For the first time in history, scientists have genetically altered squid embryos by removing the pigmentation gene that led to transparent creatures. The team used CRISPR-Cas9 to “kill” the pigmentation genes in Doryteuthis pealeii and in turn eliminated color from the eyes and skin cells.
Cephalopods have the largest brain of all invertebrates, a nervous system that is capable of camouflage, and a special ability to recode their own genetic information into their messenger’s RNA – and of course, they all have rare and interesting characteristics.
Scientists have long tried to uncover the secrets of these creatures, but failed because of their inability to peek into their structures – so far.
Joshua Rosenthal, a researcher at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Chicago, told NPR: “They developed these big brains and this sophistication of behavior is completely independent.”
“This gives you the opportunity to compare them with us and see which elements are common and which elements are unique.”
Cephalopods, which include squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have been a mystery to researchers because their nervous systems are capable of camouflage – but the breakthrough must “address a number of biological issues.”
Rosenthal and his team began their journey by first delivering the CRISPR-Cas system to the single-celled embryo.
However, they met the first challenge, as it is surrounded by a strong layer that protects the embryo until it is ready to hatch.
The team designed a special pair of micro-scissors to cut the surface of the egg and used a quartz needle to deliver CRISPR-Cas9 reagents.
Genetically modified squid, which look like these creatures of this world, were born completely transparent with beads, clear eyes.
A scientist shared a separate breakthrough earlier this year involving the mysterious giant squid.
In January, scientists published the full sequence of the giant squid’s genome, which seems to suggest the creature’s high intelligence.
An international research team has found that their genes are very similar to other animals – with a genome size not far behind that of humans.
The squid, Architeuthius dux, has eyes the size of dinner plates and tentacles that grab 10 yards of prey.
Its average length is about 33 feet – approximately the size of a medium-sized school bus.
Pictured are unaltered, adult Doryteuthis pealeii, often referred to as Woods Hole squid
But these legendary creatures are known to be elusive and the sights are rare, making them difficult to study.
Now an international team of researchers has fully mapped the genome of the species to answer key evolutionary questions.
They found that the giant squid’s genome has approximately 2.7 billion DNA base pairs – the connected chemical compounds on opposite sides of the DNA strands.
That’s about 90 percent of the size of the human genome – we have about 3 billion.
Although the size of the genome is not necessarily equal to intelligence, it can hint at characteristics such as cell division frequency, body size, rate of development, and even the risk of extinction.