Can Fruit Flies Glow in the Dark?

Fruit fly. Image from morguefile.
Question: How is a fruit fly like a firefly? No, this is not an obvious answer (their names start with the letter “f”) or the beginning of a bad entomology joke. These two organisms may both be winged insects, but as it turns out, what makes the firefly light show such a special treat on summer evenings is something that fruit flies, the bane of the kitchen in the summertime and annoyance for labs near Drosophila researchers, can mimic with a little help from a synthetic luciferin substrate as reported in PNAS. Continue reading “Can Fruit Flies Glow in the Dark?”

Indy (I’m not dead yet)

DrosophilaI take my hat off to the original inventors of Drosophila gene nomenclature. They managed to create names that are clear descriptions of the genes effect, are easy to remember, and express something of the humanity of the scientists behind the discovery. Once you’ve heard it, you can’t forget that Cleo (Cleopatra) is only lethal in the presence of Asp, or that in tinman, the embryo has no heart. I really appreciate the ease-of-use of FlyBase and the incidental entertainment value of many of the Drosophila gene names.

Continue reading “Indy (I’m not dead yet)”