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A Wee Pale Lizard

Researchers have coaxed the gene-editing tool CRISPR to work in lizards to produce albino anole lizards, Science reports. It notes that CRISPR has not previously been used in lizard embryos.

A team from the University of Georgia injected the editing machinery into immature, unfertilized Anolis oocytes within female lizards, as they report in a preprint at BioRxiv. Science notes that the usual approach of injecting CRISPR into a single-celled fertilized egg doesn't work in lizards as they can store sperm for a long period of time, making the timing of fertilization tricky to pinpoint, and as they form shells at fertilization.

Through their approach, though, the researchers introduced CRISPR machinery targeting the tyrosinase pigmentation gene and in the resulting next generation had four albino lizards. This, the New York Times adds, suggests they not only altered the mother's DNA, but the father's as well.

"This study opens the door to studying the genetics of lizard evolution," Jonathan Losos, an evolutionary biologist from Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the study, tells the Times.