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Butterfly adverts waiting in the wings
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 13/03/2002)

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.


Butterfly 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.

By 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 and Evolution.

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 light.

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.

1 November 2001: Global warming fails to boost butterfly visitors
3 October 2001: Sex test identifies a new butterfly

Related reports 

External links 
Antonia Monteiro: research summary - State University of New York at Buffalo
Trends in Ecology & Evolution [requires subscription]
Butterfly Conservation
The Butterfly Website

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