Genetically engineered three-eyed beetle could aid development of lab-grown organs

scarab beetle thirs eye full inset

Researchers have intentionally genetically modified a common beetle to develop a third functional eye, right in the middle of its forehead. It builds on previous research in which they caused a beetle to grow a third eye accidentally. Both studies were led by Indiana University postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Zattara.

In the original research, the team switched off a gene that is involved in the development of the heads of dung beetles, which caused quite drastic changes to the structure of their heads. The beetles lost their horns – and developed a compound eye in the middle of their heads.

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The work of Zattara’s team, by comparison, was much simpler. They set out to intentionally grow a third eye in two types of scarab beetle, Onthophagini and Oniticellini, by wiping out just a single gene, the same head development gene from their earlier research. The third eyes the beetles developed actually resulted from fused pairs of eyes.

The research could help understand how organs develop and become part of a body – which knowledge, in turn, could prove useful in the development of artificial lab-grown organs, for both research and medical purposes.

The team’s paper has been published in the journal PNAS.

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scarab beetle third eye control comparison

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Scientist Have Engineered Beetles With a Fully Functional Third Eye

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