A jewel wasp has been genetically modified to have red eyes to prove that ‘gene editing’ technology can be used on such small creatures.
The ultimate goal is to gain greater understanding of insect genetics, which could be used to find new ways of protecting crops or stopping the spread of diseases like malaria.
The researchers, led by Professor Omar Akbari, of University of California Riverside, said initially they planned to look into the male jewel wasps’ unusual ability to ensure all its offspring are male.
Professor Akbari said it was currently unknown how they “can somehow kill the female embryos and create only males”.
“To understand that, we need to pursue their paternal sex ratio (PSR) chromosomes, perhaps by mutating regions of the PSR chromosome to determine which genes are essential for its functionality,” he said.
The study, described in the journal Scientific Reports, was technically difficult because the wasps’ eggs are only about a quarter …