It's all Scientific

Funny fly mutants

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!

  1. Ken and Barbie – flies with mutation in this gene have no external genitilia! Yep!! Much like our Ken and Barbie dolls.
  2. Hedgehog – Mutation in this gene leads to an excessive number of denticles and the fly looks like a hedgehog!
  3. Swiss Cheese – When this one is mutated, the brain of the fly has holes, just like swiss cheese does!
  4. 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.
  5. 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’
  6. Cheap Date – Flies with extra sensitivity to alcohol
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. Fear of intimacy – If this gene is mutated, gonads aren’t formed in adult flies!
  10. 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…


17 thoughts on “Funny fly mutants”

  1. I like the swiss cheese one. Never knew flies had holes in their brains due to gene mutation, but anything is possible with genetics and science – always changing, always new discoveries. Hope you’ve been well 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mabel! So wonderful to have you visit… someone once commented to me saying fly biologists have a separate hell for what they do to flies…it’s true in a way. Flies are the most manipulable model organisms. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this one.
      Yes I’ve been well, thanks. Just very busy and caught up but mostly well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh hello Dorinda!!! I’ve missed you too my dear…and I’ve missed this space immensely 🙂 I’m so happy to be back writing and posting.
      And I’m very thankful to you for not giving up on this space entirely because of my absence. Thank you for visiting and reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My granddaughter had just started college, with biology as her hardest subject, when she came down with mono. Now she’s home in bed worrying. I’m going to read this to her to cheer her up. Probably it will provide additional energy when she gets started again. Nice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Albert! It’s a very warm feeling knowing this article will cheer someone up, I also hope she’ll enjoy reading this and will find some interest in biology after all 🙂
      And I had a wonderful time studying biology because it was something that interested me deeply! I would love to be of any help to you grand daughter with respect to her studies and particularly biology. She is welcome to write to me with whatever questions she might have 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for stopping by and I’m so sorry for the delay in my response!! I hope you are having a great day!! I’m heading over to see what you’ve been upto on your internet space 🙂


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