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?

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

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

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

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