FIRST GENETICALLY MODIFIED SQUIDS IN HISTORY HAVE BEEN BORN THIS WEEK! (SEE WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE)
For the first time in history, scientists have genetically altered squid embryos by removing a pigmentation gene that resulted in transparent creatures. The team used CRISPR-Cas9 to ‘knock out’ the gene in a Doryteuthis pealeii and in turn eliminated coloring from the eyes and skin cells. The procedure involved clipping the egg’s tough outer layer with micro-scissors and delivering the reagents inside the embryo.
Cephalopods, which includes squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have been a mystery to researchers, as their nervous systems are capable of camouflage – but the breakthrough should ‘address a host of biological questions.’
Cephalopods have the largest brain of all invertebrates, a nervous system that is capable of camouflaging itself and the special ability to recode their own genetic information inside its messenger RNA – and of course, they all have rare and interesting features.
Scientists have long attempted to uncover these creature’s secrets, but have failed due to their inability to peer into their structures – until now.
These legendary creatures are notoriously elusive and sightings are rare, making them difficult to study.
Now an international team of researchers have fully mapped the genome of the species to answer key evolutionary questions. They discovered the giant squid genome has an estimated 2.7 billion DNA base pairs – the connected chemical compounds on opposite sides of DNA strands. This is about 90 per cent the size of the human genome – we have around 3 billion.
While genome size doesn’t necessarily equate to intelligence, it can hint at features such as cell division rate, body size, developmental rate and even extinction risk.
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