| | |
news telegraph Mobile Telegraph
Email this page to a friend Print this page as text only
News home
Business news
Crossword Society
Law reports
Matt cartoon
Picture Galleries
Week at a glance
About us
Contact us


GM scientists create brand-new butterfly
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 06/03/2004)

Imagine a world where butterflies are adorned with advertising slogans, logos and exhortations from the Government to keep fit and eat less.

The insect has a jellyfish gene. Inset: its eye

Although scientists frown on this application of their work, designer butterflies are now a possibility after the announcement that one of their kind has been genetically altered for the first time by scientists.

"RAF circles would be quite cool, as part of a recruitment campaign," said Brian Millar, creative director of the creativepartnershipmarketing agency in London.

Some brands might not want to be associated with genetically modifying nature, he added. And there could be a new form of genetic pollution: "Brands should consider what would happen if the butterflies breed. Would this produce unthinkable mutant Coke/Pepsi/McDonald's/Burger King offspring? These would have to be hunted down and eradicated by a new breed of brand entomologists."

The creation of the first GM butterfly is part of a programme to understand how patterns are laid down, rather than a plan to enable companies to write designs on their wings. Dr Antonia Monteiro and colleagues at the State University of New York, Buffalo, inserted into an African butterfly a marker gene from a jellyfish, creating the first GM butterflies that contain DNA from another species.

The research on the butterfly Bicyclus anynana is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biology Letters and provides the first demonstration of "germ-line transformation" in a butterfly, in which novel genes are injected into embryos and then are passed down to subsequent generations.

The jellyfish gene, a common marker gene, was chosen for its ability to fluoresce, providing an easy method of tracking where it was being used in the insect. Under the glow of blue light, the eyes of the insect fluoresce green.

In all, seven GM butterflies were produced from the experiments. All of them made use of the jellyfish marker gene - enhanced green fluorescent protein - in their eyes.

The achievement marked a turning point in the study of these insects, Dr Monteiro said. The team could now introduce genes of its choice to uncover the secrets of how they regulated wing colour patterns.

This means it would be possible to put markings on butterflies by scanning their wings with a laser.

24 November 2003: For sale: the fish that glows in the dark
14 October 2003: Curb on GM crop trials after insect pollution

External links 
Royal Society Online Journals

Fantasy Golf

Resort Marketing