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Desert Diary

Insects/Fruit Flies 1


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Time flies like the wind and fruit flies like bananas, or so the saying goes! But amazingly, these little creatures have opened up an entire world to us, even if they are a little pesky.

Fruit flies, also known as Drosophila, are quite ideal for scientists to learn how our genetic traits are passed on. They're easy to raise, and they have a very short, predictable life cycle. Even children use these little darlings in their science fair projects. One reason they're so popular is that they have some genetic traits that are clear for people to see—and that are controlled by only one gene.

These traits include flies with worthless wings or white instead of red eyes. Scientists also love these little flies because their larvae have large strands of genetic material, called DNA, packed into their salivary glands. This makes the DNA relatively easy to see and work with.

Fruit flies have carved the way for studies of heredity in all creatures—including humans. It's amazing what you can learn from a pesky little insect.

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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Kodi R. Jeffery, formerly of the Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio, University of Texas at El Paso.