Mocking the Fruit Fly’s Contribution to Science

Keith, I will try to be as nice as….oh fuck it –

This is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed comment that we have seen from Gov. Palin so far, and there has been a lot of competition for that prize.” (Richard Wolfe to Keith Olbermann ~ video below)

There – that little bugger – that’s a fruit fly.

You know the ones Sarah Palin maligned because she has no obvious understanding of the role the fruit fly plays in scientific research.  Having a strong biology background, one of the things we did in first year Biology and beyond (Cell Biology) was grow fruit fly colonies. They’re considered ‘standard model organism’ because approximately “75% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies (Reiter et al (2001) Genome Research: 11(6):1114-25), and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues.

In looking for a picture of this pesky creature I instantaneously found an article from Science Daily that I read and will quote in a moment ‘cuz I found it so fascinating.  I also ran across a couple of other articles both which describe the influential role fruit flies play in (genetic) research.  The very article with the pic of the fly discusses the swapping out of one gene and the result in relation to ‘sexual roles’ reversal. Not only is it interesting, it’s entertaining. The other article relates to alcohol tolerance, and as one researcher explains: “If we can characterize similar genetic differences and neurobehavioral responses that underlie acute tolerance in humans, that could potentially provide new targets for the development of drugs to treat alcohol dependence.Continue reading

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