As a biologist, it is impossible to ignore the overbearing presence of the fruit fly. It is the ‘poster child for genetics’ as I read somewhere. I could spend hours discussing just how much knowledge in the field of genetics and other aspects of biology come from studying this one organism. However, today I am going to keep it about the humour. I was at a talk once where the scientist was explaining some really complicated results in a fly mutant he studied. Neither the experiments nor the results stuck with me but the name of the mutant did – Ken and Barbie! And I was like – Are you serious??? You named a gene that???
And that’s how my interest in fly biology grew…and today I bring to you, my top picks of genes I find hilarious…with reasons for why they are called so!
- Ken and Barbie – flies with mutation in this gene have no external genitilia! Yep!! Much like our Ken and Barbie dolls.
- Hedgehog – Mutation in this gene leads to an excessive number of denticles and the fly looks like a hedgehog!
- Swiss Cheese – When this one is mutated, the brain of the fly has holes, just like swiss cheese does!
- Van Gogh – Have you seen Van Gogh’s painting called Starry Nights? Yep! If you mutate this gene, a swirly pattern reminiscent of that painting is seen in the fly’s wings.
- Indy – The flies with a mutation in this gene have a longer than average lifespan. So the name is derived from ‘I’m Not Dead Yet’
- Cheap Date – Flies with extra sensitivity to alcohol
- Groucho Marx – When this is mutated, the fly overexpresses bristles around the eye. And the gene is names after the bushy eyebrows of Julius Henry Marx, professionally known as Groucho Marx (one of the three Marx brothers).
- Tko (technical knock-out) – a mutation which renders the flies deaf and with paralytic seizures, among many other things. This reference comes from the jargon in world of boxing I suppose.
- Fear of intimacy – If this gene is mutated, gonads aren’t formed in adult flies!
- Tubby – This is mostly used as a marker and the presence of this gene leads to smaller but healthier/fatter larvae.
I haven’t written a word here for almost a month and a half and I apologise for my absence but look out for my next post where I take you on a Stroll to talk about what’s been going on and why I haven’t been able to write much here…
Thank you for visiting today and I hope you keep coming back to read more…