Drosophila

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Category archives for Drosophila

They are NOT fruit flies

In the recent kerfuffle over Sarah Palin’s disparaging remarks about “fruit fly” research, an important point was missed by the general public, scientists, and even Drosophila geneticists: she wasn’t talking about Drosophila. Now, this point has been clarified by a few people (notably Mike the Mad Biologist), and I think people are starting to get…

Slightly Deleterious in Trans

One of the hot topics in evolutionary biology concerns the relative contributions of protein coding sequence changes and non-coding changes that lead to differences in the expression of protein coding genes. A subset of this debate can be summarized as cis versus trans. Non-coding sequences that regulate gene expression are known as cis regulatory elements…

New Gene Makes Flies Less Gay

We all know that Drosophila are the gayest bunch of gays that ever gayed up genetics. This is especially true when you create mutations in fruitless (nee fruity), “the gay gene”. Male flies with mutations in fruitless will try to get it on with other males (e.g., doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81802-4). That’s gay! But fruitless is an old…

Saving the Name of Drosophila melanogaster

The Drosophila genus is paraphyletic. That means there are species nested within the phylogeny of the genus that belong to other genera. Or, in other words, there are species descended from the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all Drosophila species that belong to different genera. If that doesn’t make sense, just look at the…

Phylogeny Friday — 11 April 2008

Drosophila Are Not Fruit Flies Edition As I have mentioned before, Drosophila are not fruit flies. Tephritids are fruit flies. Drosophila feed on rotting fruit, while true fruit flies feed on fresh fruit. That makes true fruit flies agricultural pests. Drosophila, on the other hand, are connoisseurs of the finer things in life — wine,…

Sleep, Sex, and Drosophila

60 Minutes ran a special on the science of sleep this week. The special included an interview with Scott McRobert about sleep deprivation and mating in Drosophila. So if lack of sleep impacts our appetite, our metabolism, our memory, and how we age, is there anything it doesn’t affect? How about sex? Scientist Scott McRobert…

Phylogeny Friday — 1 February 2008

Paraphyly in Drosophila Many biology students have hands-on experience working with Drosophila melanogaster. This little fly is one of the major workhorses of genetics. It may not be for long. That’s not to say people will stop working with the fly, but the fly may no longer be named “Drosophila melanogaster“. That’s because the Drosophila…

Phylogeny Friday — 28 December 2007

Historical Inaccuracy Edition A lot of us who work in well established biological systems take for granted how those systems were first discovered or established. Sometimes this involves the choice by an individual to begin studying development using a small worm. Other times it’s the fortunate discovery of visible chromosomes allowing for physical maps of…

Geese, Ganders, and Genomes

I previously described where in a genome we would expect to find sexually antagonistic genes. Briefly, depending on whether a gene is male-biased or female-biased and whether beneficial mutations are dominant or recessive, we can predict whether these sexually antagonistic genes will be on X chromosomes or autosomes. As I mentioned in that post, the…

Make that 12 Drosophila Genomes

What happens when I mention a paper describing two more Drosophila genomes? Well, I get a comment telling me that the 12 Genomes Papers have gone live over at Nature. They have provided a nifty 12 Genomes Portal for us to navigate the articles published by Nature based on data from the 12 Genomes Project.…