Butterfly adverts waiting in the wings
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
THE ability to write designs, logos
and messages on the wings of butterflies could emerge from research to
create the first GM butterfly, a scientist said yesterday.
wing patterns offer unique opportunities to understand how shapes and
patterns are made in nature, claimed Dr Antonia Monteiro of the State
University of New York, Buffalo.
Dr Monteiro said
that the GM method she was developing could allow companies to put
markings on butterflies by scanning their wings with a laser beam.
understanding the beautiful patterns that decorate their wings, she
believes she will learn about how the shapes, sizes and colours of
creatures evolved, according to a study published in Trends in Ecology
The next stage is the development
of a GM butterfly to see how genes control colours and patterns. This
summer, Dr Monteiro's team will carry out tests by introducing a
jellyfish gene that shows that GM is successful by glowing under UV
The next step will be to introduce a
heat-activated genetic switch with another gene that plays a role in
eye-spot development. When a region of the wing is warmed with a laser
beam, the gene will go into action to leave a mark.