Crop Biotech Update

Only Two Genes Control the Stripes and Color of Butterfly Wings

September 27, 2017

A pair of genes determines the stripes and colors of butterflies, according to two research papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the first paper authored by Linlin Zhang and colleagues at Cornell University, CRISPR-Cas9 was used to "break" the gene, which made the butterflies wings black and white. The second study conducted by Cornell's Anyi Mazo-Vargas and other researchers from various institutions, showed that when the WntA gene is cut out with CRISPR-Cas9, stripe patterns disappear.

The results show how single genes have such immense impact. They counter the idea that control of complex traits such as butterfly color patterns would involve multiple genes.

Read more from Cornell University.