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      How to Design a Genetic Mating Scheme: A Basic Training Package for Drosophila Genetics

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          Drosophila melanogaster is a powerful model organism for biological research. The essential and common instrument of fly research is genetics, the art of applying Mendelian rules in the specific context of Drosophila with its unique classical genetic tools and the breadth of modern genetic tools and strategies brought in by molecular biology, transgenic technologies and the use of recombinases. Training newcomers to fly genetics is a complex and time-consuming task but too important to be left to chance. Surprisingly, suitable training resources for beginners currently are not available. Here we provide a training package for basic Drosophila genetics, designed to ensure that basic knowledge on all key areas is covered while reducing the time invested by trainers. First, a manual introduces to fly history, rationale for mating schemes, fly handling, Mendelian rules in fly, markers and balancers, mating scheme design, and transgenic technologies. Its self-study is followed by a practical training session on gender and marker selection, introducing real flies under the dissecting microscope. Next, through self-study of a PowerPoint presentation, trainees are guided step-by-step through a mating scheme. Finally, to consolidate knowledge, trainees are asked to design similar mating schemes reflecting routine tasks in a fly laboratory. This exercise requires individual feedback but also provides unique opportunities for trainers to spot weaknesses and strengths of each trainee and take remedial action. This training package is being successfully applied at the Manchester fly facility and may serve as a model for further training resources covering other aspects of fly research.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Drosophila, the golden bug, emerges as a tool for human genetics.

           Ethan Bier (2004)
          Drosophila melanogaster is emerging as one of the most effective tools for analyzing the function of human disease genes, including those responsible for developmental and neurological disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic and storage diseases, and genes required for the function of the visual, auditory and immune systems. Flies have several experimental advantages, including their rapid life cycle and the large numbers of individuals that can be generated, which make them ideal for sophisticated genetic screens, and in future should aid the analysis of complex multigenic disorders. The general principles by which D. melanogaster can be used to understand human disease, together with several specific examples, are considered in this review.
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            100 years of Drosophila research and its impact on vertebrate neuroscience: a history lesson for the future.

            Discoveries in fruit flies have greatly contributed to our understanding of neuroscience. The use of an unparalleled wealth of tools, many of which originated between 1910–1960, has enabled milestone discoveries in nervous system development and function. Such findings have triggered and guided many research efforts in vertebrate neuroscience. After 100 years, fruit flies continue to be the choice model system for many neuroscientists. The combinational use of powerful research tools will ensure that this model organism will continue to lead to key discoveries that will impact vertebrate neuroscience.
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              Transvection effects in Drosophila.

               I. Duncan (2001)
              An unusual feature of the Diptera is that homologous chromosomes are intimately synapsed in somatic cells. At a number of loci in Drosophila, this pairing can significantly influence gene expression. Such influences were first detected within the bithorax complex (BX-C) by E.B. Lewis, who coined the term transvection to describe them. Most cases of transvection involve the action of enhancers in trans. At several loci deletion of the promoter greatly increases this action in trans, suggesting that enhancers are normally tethered in cis by the promoter region. Transvection can also occur by the action of silencers in trans or by the spreading of position effect variegation from rearrangements having heterochromatic breakpoints to paired unrearranged chromosomes. Although not demonstrated, other cases of transvection may involve the production of joint RNAs by trans-splicing. Several cases of transvection require Zeste, a DNA-binding protein that is thought to facilitate homolog interactions by self-aggregation. Genes showing transvection can differ greatly in their response to pairing disruption. In several cases, transvection appears to require intimate synapsis of homologs. However, in at least one case (transvection of the iab-5,6,7 region of the BX-C), transvection is independent of synapsis within and surrounding the interacting gene. The latter example suggests that transvection could well occur in organisms that lack somatic pairing. In support of this, transvection-like phenomena have been described in a number of different organisms, including plants, fungi, and mammals.

                Author and article information

                [* ]Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EH, United Kingdom
                []Faculty of Life Sciences, Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, M13 9PT, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                [1 ]Corresponding author: The University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT. E-mail: Andreas.Prokop@
                G3 (Bethesda)
                G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics
                Genetics Society of America
                1 February 2013
                February 2013
                : 3
                : 2
                : 353-358
                Copyright © 2013 Roote, Prokop

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Unported License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                drosophila, model organism, education, transgenesis, classical genetics


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