17 Jun Breakthrough in the case of Jeremy the snail
Scientists have found the elusive gene responsible for lefty snail shells, and have even managed to produce ‘lefty’ offspring.
Jeremy the Lefty Snail and Other Asymmetrical Animals looks at the fascinating story of Jeremy, a one in a million snail. His shell coiled to the left rather than the right.Since the documentary in 2017, asymmetry in animals has been at the centre of research.
In fact, in May this year, researchers Masanori Abe and Reiko Kuroda, from the Tokyo University of Science had a massive breakthrough in their research. They found that left-right asymmetry in snails is controlled by one gene.
That gene is called Lsdia1, and according to Abe and Kuroda it’s been “sought after for over a century.”
Researchers found that if they manipulated the gene, then the asymmetry in the animal was affected. Using gene-editing technology, they were able to reverse the curl of the freshwater snail’s shell.
While this was a breakthrough, the researchers wanted to look at the genetics behind asymmetry.
In Jeremy the Lefty Snail and Other Asymmetrical Animals, researchers theorised that two lefty snails would produce lefty offspring. However, a love-triangle and multiple offspring later, it was found that this wasn’t the case.
Instead, the offspring produced still curled to the right, leading researchers to believe that asymmetry isn’t genetic.
However, the recent research from the Tokyo University of Science has been able to produce lefty offspring.
After manipulating the Lsdia1 gene in one snail, it’s offspring also curled to the left.
This confirmed that the gene had been permanently altered and was a constant for future generations.
If this breakthrough is anything to go by, the mystery of asymmetry might very soon be solved. And while Jeremy was a one-in-a-million, future generations of lefty snails might be much more common.