Ode to the Fruit Fly, by Curt Stern.

This week I was browsing trough this new book the Drosophila world is happy to place on the lab shelf, next the the red book*, blue book**, and fly pushing***. It’s the Atlas of Drosophila Morphology, written by Sylwester Chyb and Nicolas Gompel. It’s absolutely beautiful, and will be helpful to all fly pushers.(here is a  professional review)

At the beginning, there is this citation of Curt Stern I just love. I think this is a beautiful description of how every true fly pushers feels when looking at flies under the binocular microscope.

“For more than 25 years I have looked at the little fruit fly Drosophila and each time I find fresh delight. When I see Drosophila under moderate magnification of a binocular microscope I marvel at the clearcut form of the head with giant red eyes, the antennae, and elaborate mouth parts; at the arch of the sturdy thorax bearing a pair of beautifully iridescent, transparent wings and three pairs of legs; at the design of the simple abdomen composed of a series of ringlike segments. A shining, waxy armor of chitin entirely covers the body of the insect. In some regions this armor is bare, but in others regions there arise short or long outgrowths – the bristles – strong and wide at the base and gently tapering off to a fine point. Narrow grooves, as in fluted columns with a slightly baroque twist, extend along their lengths.” -Curt Stern, 1954. Two or three bistles, American Scientist, 42, p. 213.

Don’t you feel exactly the same way when looking at your flies ?

* The Genome of Drosophila melanogaster, by Dan L. Lindsley and Georgianna G. Zimm

** Drosophila: A Laboratory Handbook, by Michael Ashburner , Kent Golic and R. Scott Hawley

*** Fly Pushing, by R. J. Greenspan

The iLab – A new Drosophila app !

Hey guys,

At first, I want to apologize for the long absence. I’ve been busy and lazy, the worst combination of all. But I had to share this little discovery I made a few weeks ago, a new app for Drosophilists ! (drum rolls …..)

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It is made by Genesee Sceintific, the FlyStuff.com division in particular. Weirdly, when it comes to the fly room, I’m a bit old-fashioned. I like scribbling crosses on pieces of papers, looking phenotypes up in these good old heavy fly books.

Nevertheless, this app has a undeniable advantage. I basically consist of pictures, description of the most current mutants and species. Comes in handy if you quickly need to check up what a Bar eye or a Curly wing looks like. (Ok, nobody would look up a curly wing) There are also quick links to FlyBase.

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Now, the best at last … There is little nerdy addition: A virtual fly pad. You can train your fly sorting skills, and even enter the competition with other geeks drosophilists by sharing your scores online. Ok, past the few minutes of excitement, it gets a bit boring, and has nothing to do with the real-life fly pad experience.

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An other excellent point is that the app is free, and soon available for the android users too. So guys, go to the App Store and download it, it’s definitely worth it !

Famous Scientists Quotes -2- : “They will fool you every time”

I’m still a little bit in my Drosophila’s-are-the-best phase, and I remembered today one of the many witty quotes from Alfred Sturtevant, one of the father’s of Drosophila genetics, who worked with Thomas Hunt Morgan himself. (More on his life and achievements here) 

This man had a lot of wisdom to say: “They [the flies] will fool you every time”.      Every person who ever worked in a fly lab knows it’s true. I think about it every time my experiments turn out weird. And it makes me smile again.

Indeed, if there is a way for them to escape the tube or the room, they will find it. If your crossing scheme is dodgy or risky, they will fail you. Even if it’s not, they will still try. Sometimes, it just feels like they resent us for keeping them in the lab, and messing with their genes 🙂 I swear that I once felt one bite me (still not kidding).

So, new drosophilists in the making, now you cannot say you didn’t know 🙂