Science can do a lot these days, but it is hard to believe that entirely new “mutant” organisms are created everyday. In order to prove that gene splicing can create new organisms, a team of researchers from Oregon set out to do just that. Wasps have an unusual biology, and gene-splicing technology will make studying wasp biology much simpler.
For example, gene splicing can allow researchers to better understand how male wasps convert their progeny into males. So far it is unknown to science how a selfish genetic element can change the sex of wasp offspring. Apparently, male wasps are somehow able to kill female embryos, therefore ensuring a progeny of males.
According to the researcher heading up the study, Dr Akbari, the point of all of this genetic tinkering is to develop a better understanding of wasp and all insect biology. Perhaps in the future science can use this technology to control populations of invasive insect-pests. Accomplishing this degree of genetic manipulation on an entire population of insects can help to better protect our farmland from insect-pests, and protect against insect-borne disease, like malaria.
This genetic manipulation process involves carefully peeling back an egg membrane in order to inject DNA into the embryo. After the egg has been altered, it is then put back together and allowed to grow into an entirely new organism with a never-before seen genetic makeup. In order to properly test the efficacy of this gene splicing technology, Dr. Akbar and his associates chose to alter a feature on an insect that would be noticeable, such as the eyes. The researchers already knew that if one gene for pigmentation were knocked out, then the eyes would turn out red. Sure enough, the experiment worked, which means we are now living in an age when bringing dinosaurs back to life seems possible.
Do you think that this technology will be used in the farming industry in order to keep pests away?