Sep 19, 2017

Scientists pinpoint genes behind butterfly wing patterns

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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Trump's clemency spree

Rod Blagojevich in 2010. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Trump announced Tuesday that he commuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for extortion, bribery and corruption — as well as issuing full pardons for former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and financier Michael Milken.

The big picture: The president's clemency spree largely benefitted white-collar criminals convicted of crimes like corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering, undercutting his message of "draining the swamp."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's improbable moonshot

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA is unlikely to meet its deadline of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, even with a large influx of funding.

Why it matters: The Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space policy, and its aggressive, politically-motivated timeline is its hallmark.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Science

Justice Department says U.S. attorneys are reviewing Ukraine information

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) Tuesday informing him that the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania are reviewing "unsolicited" information from the public related to matters involving Ukraine.

Why it matters: Nadler had requested an explanation for the "intake process" that Attorney General Bill Barr stated had been set up in order to receive information that Rudy Giuliani had obtained about the Bidens in Ukraine.