What is the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center?

The Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center (BDSC) is a sacred landmark in the fly world. The BDSC, hosted at Indiana University, stores tens of thousands of unique Drosophila melanogaster lines and is used by researchers around the globe. Considering its importance, I thought it would be useful to explain all about the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center.

History of the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center

The origin of the BDSC dates back to the 1920s, with a small collection of research stocks created and maintained by Thomas Hunt Morgan and his students, Alfred Sturtevant and Calvin Bridges. By 1934, a few years after the researchers moved from Columbia to CalTech, their Drosophila collection numbered a humble 572 fly stocks.1

Thomas Hunt Morgan and his two students who established the original Drosophila stock center at CalTech in Pasadena, California. Image Source: BDSC website.

How is the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center used today?

Today the BDSC houses over 77,000 different Drosophila melanogaster strains, and is used by fly researchers all over the globe.2 The stock center is financially supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and its stated mission is to “provide a collection of documented living stocks of broad value to current research, to preserve documented strains with clear future value, and to provide information and support services that promote maximal exploitation of these materials.”

With that many flies on hand, a large support staff is needed. The BDSC employs 64 stock keepers, as well as a few more staff in charge of brewing the fly food and washing dishes.

Bloomington Drosophila stock center
Shelves of Drosophila stocks at the BDSC. Image Source: New York Times.

How to navigate the BDSC stock list

With tens of thousands of Drosophila melanogaster lines to choose from, clear organization of the stock list is essential. You can browse this stock collection in a few different ways:

  • You can browse the stocks here by selecting from broad pre-set categories (e.g. flies with fluorescent proteins, flies with balancer chromosomes, teaching stocks, etc.)
An example of browsing fly stocks by broad category, with the “RNAi/miRNA” menu expanded. The Stocks page is accessible here.
  • You can use the Advanced Stock Search to locate fly lines with certain features that you personally specify (e.g. type in a specific genotype or chromosome)
The Advanced Stock Search menu allows you to enter specific search terms for genotype and other parameters.

How to order a Drosophila stock

Ordering fly stocks is very simple. Before placing an order by filling out an Order Form, you first need to create an account. If you work at a university or research lab that uses Drosophila melanogaster, your institution or lab probably already has one.


References

  1. Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center. Indiana University Bloomington website. Available at: https://bdsc.indiana.edu/about/history.html
  2. Fruit Flies Are Essential to Science. So Are the Workers Who Keep Them Alive. New York Times. Dec 14, 2020. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/14/science/fruit-flies-covid.html

If you enjoyed this overview of the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center, please check out my post all about Drosophila melanogaster chromosomes.

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