Jewel wasps, which are scientifically known as Nasonia vitripennis, just had its genes edited by Californian scientists. Later on, the experiment resulted from black eyed jewel wasps to mutant red-eyed wasps through CRISPR gene-slicing technology.
According to Science Daily, lab scientists at the University of California, Riverside were responsible for the creation of the red-eyed wasps. The said experiment is intended to find out whether CRISPR gene-slicing technology could be used in small organisms.
The study’s lead author and an assistant professor of entomology Omar Akbari mentioned that the experiment needed steady hands, a fine needle, and patience. He also mentioned that they knew already from previous studies that targeting the jewel wasps’ eye pigmentation genes would make their eyes red.
The study published in the journal Scientific Reports then mentioned that the process required the team to gather the jewel wasps’ minuscule eggs from its egg sac the size of a small bean. The collected eggs which were described to be only a quarter the size of a single grain of rice were then injected with Cas9 DNA mixtures.
Afterward, the injected eggs were then placed back to the host. After 19 days, the red-eyed wasps resulted. The jewel wasps were also mentioned to have its red eye mutation heritable. The team's ultimate goal is said to understand the insect genetics more, which could be useful in stopping diseases like malaria.
Wired also noted that the CRISPR gene-slicing technology used to produce the red-eyed wasps was subjected to legal challenges. It was then mentioned that China uses the technology as well to inject cancer-fighting blood cells in humans. Meanwhile, it was also said that CRISPR was also used to edit pig DNA in order to transfer organs to humans.
"Our results demonstrate the CRISPR/Cas9 system is a powerful tool for genome manipulation in N. vitripennis, with strong potential for expansion to target critical genes, thus allowing for the investigation of several important biological phenomena in this organism," researchers concluded in the red-eyed wasp experiment paper.