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.
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 staining for gene expression using RNA in situ hybridisation, protein staining and confocal microscopy, Western analyses, cell culture, immunity assays, and quantitative PCR.
The group also makes use of state of the art electrophysiology equipment to carry out electroantennograms (EAGs) and single olfactory neuron recording.They also store a wide range of mutant and transgenic Drosophila strains to aid in their analysis of gene function in the fruit fly.