Naturally occurring 'GM' butterflies have wasp genes

Naturally occurring ‘GM’ butterflies have wasp genes

GM butterfly

CC BY 2.0 Sid Mosdell/Flickr

Mother Nature, not Monsanto, appears to be behind this striking twist.

Things are getting freaky in the critter world. Researchers from Spain and France have discovered genes from parasitic wasps present in the genomes of many butterflies. The results of their study reveal that even the iconic monarch contains naturally produced GMOs.

Say what?!

It all seems to have started with the particular habits of parasitic braconid wasps. These guys (well, females actually) lay their eggs inside caterpillars and inject a “giant virus” named bracovirus to trip up the caterpillars’ immune response. Proving once and for all that truth really is stranger than fiction, this nifty trick allows the virus to integrate into the DNA of the caterpillars and control caterpillar development, allowing the wasp larvae overlords to colonize their host. Read more.