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
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 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?
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
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