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?

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

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?

How to sex Drosophila melanogaster

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

How Drosophila melanogaster genes are named

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

All about Drosophila melanogaster chromosomes

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

The Drosophila melanogaster life cycle

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