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First genetically modified squids born transparent after scientists ‘knock out’ pigmentation gene

For the first time in history, scientists have genetically altered squid embryos by removing a pigmentation gene that resulted in transparent creatures.

The team used CRISPR-Cas9 to ‘knock out’ the gene in a Doryteuthis pealeii and in turn eliminated coloring from the eyes and skin cells.

The procedure involved clipping the egg’s tough outer layer with micro-scissors and delivering the reagents inside the embryo.

Cephalopods, which includes squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have been a mystery to researchers, as their nervous systems are capable of camouflage – but the breakthrough should ‘address a host of biological questions.’

Cephalopods have the largest brain of all invertebrates, a nervous system that is capable of camouflaging itself and the special ability to recode their own genetic information inside its messenger RNA – and of course, they all have rare and interesting features.

Scientists have long attempted to uncover these creature’s secrets, but have failed due to their inability to peer into their structures – until now.

Joshua Rosenthal, a researcher at the University of Chicago-affiliated Marine Biological Laboratory, told NPR: ‘They’ve evolved these big brains and this behavioral sophistication completely independently.’

‘This provides an opportunity to compare them with us and see what elements are in common, and what elements are unique.’

Rosenthal and his team began their journey by first delivering the CRISPR-Cas system into the one-celled embryo.

However, they met the first challenge, as it is surrounded by a tough layer that protects the embryo until it is ready to hatch.

The team designed a special pair of micro-scissors to clip the egg’s surface and used a quartz needle to deliver the CRISPR-Cas9 reagents.

The genetically-modified squids, which looks similar to out of this world creatures, were born completely transparent with beady, clear eyes.

Scientist shared separate break through earlier this year involving the mysterious giant squid.

Scientists published the full genome sequence in January of the giant squid, which seems to hint at the creature’s high intelligence.

An international research team found that their genes look a lot like other animals – with a genome size not far behind that of humans.

The squid, Architeuthius dux, has eyes as big as dinner plates and tentacles that snatch prey from 10 yards away.

Its average length is around 33 feet – approximately the size of an average-sized school bus.

But these legendary creatures are notoriously elusive and sightings are rare, making them difficult to study.

Now an international team of researchers have fully mapped the genome of the species to answer key evolutionary questions.

They discovered the giant squid genome has an estimated 2.7 billion DNA base pairs – the connected chemical compounds on opposite sides of DNA strands.

This is about 90 per cent the size of the human genome – we have around 3 billion.

While genome size doesn’t necessarily equate to intelligence, it can hint at features such as cell division rate, body size, developmental rate and even extinction risk.

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