Scientists genetically modified ants using CRISPR to show how their societies evolved

CRISPR, the gene-editing tool that promises to cure disease, create superbabies, and breed designer animals, just led to a breakthrough in evolutionary biology research.

In a new study, researchers at Rockefeller University report that they successfully engineered the first genetically modified ants. They used the technique to gain insight into the biological basis for some of the insects’ most sophisticated skills, like their ability to form organized colonies and follow trails. (They tracked each ant by painting them with different colored dots.)

Even though the results are still awaiting formal peer review, the project is already generating huge enthusiasm from scientists. Watch the video above to see what they learned after years of effort, and what it could mean for future evolutionary biology research.

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