Researchers Create Genetically-Altered Transparent Squids

A new scientific milestone has been achieved as researchers have managed to create transparent squids by altering the genes of squid embryos and removing a key gene related to pigmentation. The feat was achieved with the help of the CRISPR-Cas 9 gene-editing tool.

Scientists have been fascinated by cephalopods, among which we can count squid, octopus, and cuttlefish, for a long time as they use their nervous systems for camouflage. The new discovery could also provide a wealth of information that may answer a series of questions related to the biology of these creatures.

Complex nervous system

Previous scientific research has shown that cephalopods feature the largest brains among invertebrates. One of the most interesting traits of the nervous system is the ability to hide. Cephalopods can also rewrite genetic code found in the messenger RNA and have other features of interest.

Scientists have tried to obtain in-depth information about the creatures in the past, but they weren’t able to peer into their brains. According to one of the researchers who contributed to the study, the new development offers the opportunity to see how their nervous system works in comparison to the human one.

Finding a solution through gene-editing

The team faced a series of challenges from the start, as the task of introducing the CRISPR-Cas 9 tool into squid embryos was complicated by a hard shell that protects them until they are ready for the hatching process. A custom-tool was designed in the form of a pair of micro-scissors, which was used to breach the shell.

Once the breach procedure was complete, the researchers could insert the tool removed from the target gene. The alien-looking squids are completely transparent, a feat that will ease further research, especially since squids are notoriously hard to find in the wild.

More information can be found in a paper that was published in a scientific journal.

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