Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The genetically engineered silkworm

The domesticated variety [of silkworm], compared to the wild form, has increased cocoon size, growth rate and efficiency of its digestion. It has also gained tolerance to human presence and handling and living in crowded conditions. It also cannot fly and lacks fear of potential predators. These changes have made it entirely dependent upon humans for survival. ...

The silkworm is one of the world's most genetically modified animals. Silkworms were first domesticated in China over 5000 years ago. Since then, the silk production capacity of the species has increased nearly tenfold. Silkworm is one of the few organisms wherein the principles of genetics and breeding were applied to harvest maximum output. It is next only to maize in exploiting the principles of heterosis and cross breeding.