DOUBLE WINGS: An ultrabithorax mutant fly has a total duplication of the body segment that carries wings.

Recent issues of The American Journal of Human Genetics have featured a newcomer: Drosophila melanogaster. The fruit fly is a frequent star of a series of review articles called "Insights From Model Systems." The insect's appearance in a human genetics journal is a telling sign that this model among model organisms, long used to decipher the general principles of inheritance, has achieved a new status in helping researchers understand human genome information.

Researchers of the past studied mutations that alter flies in noticeable ways: eye color, wing shape, or mixed-up parts. Today's "fly people" take a more molecular approach, sequencing genes and proteins, then deciphering how they connect into pathways and networks that enable cells to communicate with each other to build the tissues of a complex organism. Such discoveries increasingly point...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?