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
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
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?
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
In your time reading biology papers, you’ve likely encountered some Latin terms like in vitro, in vivo, de novo, in situ, et cetera. Because the Latin language had such a large influence on the early natural sciences, these terms are still in common use and have mostly retained their original definitions. However, you may have… Continue reading What does a priori mean?
After completing an experiment, we’ll usually perform statistical tests to determine whether our results are “significant.” P-values are commonly used to report statistical significance in scientific papers, but biologists have been criticized in recent years for misunderstanding and misusing this statistic. A recent paper in PLOS Biology surveyed the scientific literature and found widespread evidence… Continue reading How to use P-values in biology
One of the most basic and critical tasks in Drosophila research is separating male flies from females, and picking virgin females to set up genetic crosses. Not recognizing the differences between the sexes can lead to ruined experiments and bad times! Here I show you how to sex Drosophila melanogaster AND find those precious virgin… Continue reading How to sex Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster is known for its interesting genes, with legendary examples like hamlet, cheapdate, dreadlocks, and swiss cheese, among hundreds of others. But these names aren’t just for fun and games. In fact, one of the most important things you’ll learn while working with D. melanogaster is its rules for gene naming. The basics of… Continue reading How Drosophila melanogaster genes are named
When choosing a model organism, one of the main factors to consider is the complexity of the genome. How many genes does it have? How many non-coding vs. protein-coding sequences? How many chromosomes? Four chromosomes Drosophila melanogaster has four chromosomes, or more precisely, four pairs of chromosomes in each somatic cell: a pair of sex… Continue reading All about Drosophila melanogaster chromosomes
Drosophila melanogaster (D. melanogaster, or the vinegar fly) is an excellent model organism for many reasons: it has a fully sequenced, well characterized genome; it is capable of learning and other complex behaviors; but perhaps most of all, it has a rapid life cycle. At a temperature of 25°C (that’s ~77 degrees Fahrenheit for those… Continue reading The Drosophila melanogaster life cycle