Intro to Mendelian genetics

Most students of biology have heard the phrase “Mendelian genetics,” owing to Gregor Mendel’s famous pea plant breeding experiments in the mid-19th century. In 1915, Mendel’s principles of heredity were first applied to the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster when “The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity” was published by the original dream team of fly researchers (partly… Continue reading Intro to Mendelian genetics

What is a balancer chromosome?

Drosophila melanogaster is a great model system for studying mutations, many of which are recessive lethal. You might be wondering: How is it possible to stably maintain a recessive lethal mutation in a fly stock? Wouldn’t the mutant allele be lost over time, as it is gradually bred out with each successive generation? Not to… Continue reading What is a balancer chromosome?

Necessary vs Sufficient: What’s the difference?

Laboratory researchers work to uncover the causes of events, whether the events in question are planetary motions, the movement of proteins within a cell, or the development of an animal tissue over time. In biology research papers, you will often see genes or proteins described as necessary or sufficient for a particular event to occur.… Continue reading Necessary vs Sufficient: What’s the difference?

The curious case of ectopic eyes in Drosophila

The model organism Drosophila melanogaster is famous for its elaborate genetic experiments. Scientists have learned a great deal about animal development — even human development — by creating countless mutations in D. melanogaster and observing their effects on fly development. One such famous experiment is the case of ectopic eyes in Drosophila melanogaster, which taught… Continue reading The curious case of ectopic eyes in Drosophila

Correlation vs Causation in Biology

Scientists are always warning the public — and each other — not to confuse correlation with causation. When a study is published linking our favorite food to cancer, heart attacks, or other health problems, we’re cautioned to take these findings with a grain of salt because identifying causes in a complex sea of correlations is… Continue reading Correlation vs Causation in Biology

The Gal4-UAS system: Drosophila research tool

The Gal4-UAS system is one of the most famous and useful genetic tools available in Drosophila melanogaster. This technology was first developed in yeast1,2 in the late 1980s and subsequently adapted to allow tissue-specific gene expression in flies.3 Researchers around the globe now use Gal4-UAS to turn genes on or off in almost any Drosophila… Continue reading The Gal4-UAS system: Drosophila research tool

The forgotten Drosophila: suzukii and yakuba

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is one of the most commonly used model organisms worldwide, but it’s just one of over 1,600 different species of fly in the Drosophila genus.1 Two other species, Drosophila suzukii and Drosophila yakuba, have also been widely studied, albeit not nearly as much as D. melanogaster. In this post I’ll… Continue reading The forgotten Drosophila: suzukii and yakuba

Genetics of Drosophila melanogaster body color

You may have noticed that Drosophila melanogaster body color can come in a few different shades. The wild-type (normal) coloration that you’ll typically see is tan, as in the image below. But there are several other body colors, namely a lighter yellow (due to mutation of the yellow gene) and darker ebony (due to mutation… Continue reading Genetics of Drosophila melanogaster body color

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.… Continue reading What is the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center?

Genome engineering with CRISPR/Cas

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for their work to pioneer genome engineering with CRISPR/Cas. This acronym derives from Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and their CRISPR-associated genes (Cas). CRISPR loci, which are found in many species of bacteria and most archae, have been collectively described… Continue reading Genome engineering with CRISPR/Cas