Mutant Ants Are Created In a World First

In a world-first, scientists have genetically engineered ants to lack their sense of smell, affecting the animals’ ability to communicate. Scientists used the controversial CRISPR technology to disrupt the ants’ ability to communicate, forage or compete to be a queen, as their antennae and brain circuits failed to fully develop. While the system has not yet been tested in humans, the researchers believe that it could one day be used to treat conditions that affect social

communication, including schizophrenia and depression. In the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and New York University made mutations to ants, revealing the molecular basis of their social behaviour. Dr Robert Bonasio, one of the authors of the study, said: ‘Social insects such as ants are outstanding models to study how gene regulation affects behaviour.’  READ MORE

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