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First bioengineered ‘mutant ants’ could open research doors

| | August 17, 2017

Despite what you might’ve seen in 1950s monster movies, it’s difficult to raise mutant ants. For years biologists have altered the genetics of organisms as varied as mice and rice. Mutant fruit flies are a laboratory staple. But ants’ complex life cycle hampered efforts to grow genetically engineered ants — until now.

Claude Desplan, a New York University biologist and an author of one of the studies, said that, as far as he could tell, these ants are “the first mutant in any social insect.”

Desplan’s research group chose to study a species of jumping ant found in India, Harpegnathos saltator, because all of these ants are potentially fertile. …

Using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique…scientists knocked out a crucial component of the ant’s odor receptors.

Pheromones, the odors by which ants communicate, are their social medium.

The behavior of the mutants changed dramatically. The Indian jumping ants wandered away from the colony and wouldn’t forage.

Research such as this opens the door for new model organisms, in Desplan’s view. If the traditional bioscience method is to ask many questions of the same organism — such as mice or fruit flies — then genetic engineering techniques allow biologists to ask very specific questions to an animal that fits their needs.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Scientists create the first mutant ants

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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