Superior silkworms

THE Indian silkworm is likely to become rather superior - once scientists at the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore are successful in their application of a method developed recently by them in isolating and transferring specific genes. The low-yielding but sturdy Bombyx mori (mulberry silk-worm) will remain sturdy, of course, but gain in yield.

K R Gopinathan of the Institute has reported that the IIS biotechnologists have been able to isolate and transfer fibroin genes to the low-yielding Indian silkworm. Fibroin is a fibre protein manufactured in the larvae's long, tube-like glands.

One of the two methods used to introduce the foreign gene is the direct injection of cloned genes into the egg or early embryos of the silkworm. The other method is the use of a virus as a vehicle for transferring the gene into the recipient.