Black and White evidence: Single genes regulates color, stripes in Butterfly wings


A recent study has shown that two papers for the first time demonstrate single master genes, one for colors and shimmer and other for stripe motif regulates these complicated attributes in butterfly wings. One paper provides the premiere evidence that the optix gene controls color and shimmer.

When researchers wielded CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology to rupture the gene, those butterflies had black-and-white wings. The other paper demonstrated that when the WntA gene was cut out with CRISPR-Cas9, stripe motifs disappeared.

The detection is noticeable as they narrate how single genes can have such enormous effect. The discovery runs contrary to the idea of something as complicated as butterfly color motifs would need dozens to hundreds of genes.

Another paper that was published by the same group which demonstrated that a gene called spalt regulated wing eyespot patterns. Robert Reed, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and a co-author of all three papers said that the foundational package of genes regulates most color motifs in butterfly wings. He also said that the detection have wider insinuation for genes encompassed in evolution.  It seems that sporadic master genes play an extremely important role in frequently steering evolution in different species.

As the number of genes is finite they are often reprocessed throughout the evolutionary period with the similar genes having varied activities over time and across species. For example optix gene also prevails in fruit flies but there they are involved in eye development as opposed to wing colors.

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