Drosophila – a versatile genetic model organism
Commonly known as the fruit or vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster has been used for genetic analyses for more than a century. It is a small, cosmopolitan insect that is found ubiquitously throughout the world and is commonly found near rotting fruit and wineries.
The genome of Drosophila has been fully sequenced and is carried on only four chromosomes. A wide variety of phenotypic traits – morphological, physiological and behavioural – make it ideal for carrying out genetic manipulation and analyses.
The discovery of sex-linked traits and genetic recombination between homologous chromosomes can be attributed to Thomas Hunt Morgan and his use of Drosophila as a model organism. Morgan’s use of Drosophila for investigation into gene function and chromosome rearrangement was a trend that quickly caught on in scientific circles.
Today Drosophila is used all over the world as a versatile model organism in the laboratory.
For much more information on why Drosophila are great model organisms, see this wonderful resource developed by the University of Manchester.
Using Drosophila in the Warr laboratory
The Warr Research group utilises a wide variety of molecular and genetic techniques when working with Drosophila in the laboratory. These techniques include detecting gene expression using RNA in situ hybridisation and qPCR, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, Western analyses, cell culture, manipulation of gene function using RNAi, generation of mutants, and overexpression analyses.
The group is housed in a state of the art facility for transgenic flies, and stores a wide range of mutant and transgenic Drosophila strains to aid in their analyses of gene function.