Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fruit flies to study behavioral genetics

Researchers have been maintaining different inbred lines of fruit flies, They then focus in on behavioral differences between lines to study the genetic correlates (gene expression profiles) of those differences. This is very similar to what could and is being done among domestic dogs - except that the dog lines are not quite as inbred.
In this news piece in Science, Elizabeth Pennisi explains how this research started and describes some of the projects.
How they established the inbred lines:
The project began a decade ago. Twice, in 1999 and 2002, Mackay's NCSU collaborator Richard Lyman showed up at Raleigh's farmers' market and picked off the fruit flies that emerged as crates of freshly harvested peaches were opened. Individual females were placed in vials, and each fly that reproduced became the progenitor of a single line of flies. Their offspring were allowed to mate only with each other, resulting, after several generations, in a line of genetically identical individuals that display consistent behavior. Each line is genetically--and behaviorally--different from all the others. The overall goal is to capture the genetic variation in the North Carolina wild fruit fly population in these wild-derived inbred lines.
Two of the studies that they mention look at expression patterns related to sleeping patterns and alcohol sensitivity.


Maju said...

Fruit flies to study behavioral genetics

Are you sure you meant that? AFAIK, it will be the first paper ever in any discipline whose lead author is a fruit fly. Evolution seems to be really speeding up. ;)

Yann Klimentidis said...

yeah, I realized that after I published the post. I probably should have said "USING fruit flies..." ..oh well...

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