Scientists in the US have created a "daddy short legs" spider, adjusting the genetics of the common, house-dwelling daddy long legs to understand more about their makeup.
Researchers at the University of Madison-Wisconsin published their findings in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. journal, hoping the results will allow for development of more sophisticated tools for functional genetics.
During the experiment, scientists isolated two genes associated with leg development in the arachnid (while daddy long legs strongly resemble spiders, they are more closely related to scorpions) and were able to block the activation of those genes in several embryos, resulting in spiders with shorter legs.
"The genome of the daddy long legs holds great potential to clarify the complex history of arachnid genome evolution and body plan, as well as to reveal how daddy long legs make their unique long legs," research leader, Dr Guilherme Gainett said in the paper.
"Looking forward, we are interested in understanding how genes give rise to novel features of arachnids, such as spider fangs and scorpion pinchers, and also leveraging the genome to develop the first transgenic harvestmen (daddy long legs)."