University of Buffalo researchers stenciled the
silhouette of a butterfly right on the surface of a butterfly wing by
using lasers to turn on fluorescent marker genes in a very precise
pattern. No butterflies were harmed during the experiment.
"As the laser heats up specific cells on the
butterfly wing, genes that sit next to this regulatory sequence get
turned on, allowing for specific clusters of cells on the wing to
fluoresce," said study leader Antonia Monteiro, now an assistant
professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University.
The researchers hope to use their new technique to
test how certain genes play a role in the development of intricate
patterns on butterfly wings. The achievement, detailed in the current
issue of the journal BMC Developmental Biology, could also
be useful to scientists working on the color patterns of other insects,
fish, birds or plants, the researchers say.
Credit: Credit: D. Ramos, A. Monteiro, University of Buffalo