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Inside a chrysalis: ‘Painting’ butterfly wings with CRISPR

Butterfly metamorphosis is still a bit of a mystery. What happens inside a chrysalis to turn a caterpillar into a beautifully painted butterfly? Does it really turn to soup?

I visited Dr. Arnaud Martin, who uses the CRISPR genetic modification technology to learn about how genes build bodies. Dr. Martin uses CRISPR to disrupt certain genes, and then looks for changes in butterfly wing patterns, creating designs we never see in nature.

From It’s Okay to Be Smart: Dr. Joe Hanson talks with Dr. Martin and Dr. Joe Hanly about how they’re altering the DNA of their gulf fritillary lab butterflies, essentially “wing painting” with CRISPR, and what the mosaic mutants look like after metamorphosis.

gulf fritillary wings
Plus: See the baby butterfly wings within caterpillar bodies, as well as what’s going on inside a chrysalis. The video includes an astounding chrysalis window time lapse from Next Gen Scientist Aaron Pomerantz.

inside a chrysalis
Next: Monarch Butterfly Metamorphosis in HD, Zoom into a Blue Morpho Butterfly, and an animation of what happens to a caterpillar inside its chrysalis.

Then watch more It’s Okay to Be Smart videos, more metamorphosis videos, and more videos about DNA, including this BBC Knowledge DNA Explainer.

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