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Passion butterfly wing pattern produced by gene editing. Image: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Via two different gene editing studies, scientists have found that the intricate colors and patterns of butterfly wings develop thanks to just two genes, per Nature.

  • The technique: The research teams used the CRISPR gene editing technique to "turn off" two separate genes — called WntA and optix — to observe the results on the wings of several butterfly species.
  • The results: The WntA gene was found to set borders for the patterns on butterflies' wings as turning it off led colors to bleed together and fade. And the optix gene seemed to do more than just control colors, turning some individuals black or grey while creating iridescence in other butterflies, indicating that the genes also influence the architecture of the wings.
  • Why it matters: The results show how gene editing techniques can be used to discover more about evolution in a laboratory setting.

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Congress grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Both chambers of Congress on Thursday voted to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the path to confirmation for President Biden's nominee for defense secretary.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

McConnell proposes February impeachment trial

Sen. Mitch McConnell Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is proposing that the impeachment trial of former President Trump begin in mid-February to allow for due process.

Why it matters: The impeachment trial is likely to grind other Senate business to a halt, including the confirmation process for President Biden's Cabinet nominees.