Aug 23

Social Behavior Loss Observed in Gene-edited ants through CRISPR

CRISPR has been in the limelight for a very long time, and now it has again touched headlines, not for another milestone, but for a reason that might question the positive effects, it boasts of creating in the research sphere. Two independent researchers at Rockefeller University and New York University edited orco genes of ants to assess the odorant-receptor function. The researchers at the former university used CRISPR gene-editing technology to edit the genes of Ooceraea biroi ants, exploiting the fact that these animals reproduce through parthenogenesis to spread mutations through a colony; the latter however modified genes of Harpegnathos saltator eggs through CRISPR, using a feature of this species by which worker ants can become ‘pseudoqueens’ and found their own colonies. As well as showing an impaired sense of smell, both sets of mutant ants had impaired social behavior. Both also had big reductions in an area of the brain associated with smell sensed through the antennae, suggesting that loss of odorant-receptor function can stop the development of this brain region in these animals.

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