Fruit Fly Phenotypes

Lucky for scientists, and maybe not so lucky for fruit flies, there are all kinds of ways that fly DNA can be mutated to create interesting looking flies. These different visible traits that result from mutated DNA are called phenotypes.

Here are some examples of the different phenotypes that scientists can create:

Wildtype Fly
Wild type
This is the type of female fruit fly you would find in nature. Unlike humans, all unmutated fruit flies look about the same.

Short Winged Fly
Short Winged
This mutation is a recessive trait, meaning that the fly won't express the gene unless it gets it from both parents. Unfortunately these fruit flies cannot fly.

Curly Winged Fly
Curly Winged
This mutation is dominant so the fly only has to get it from one parent in order to express it. These flies are unable to fly but they can hop around.

Yellow Fly
Yellow
This mutation is recessive and causes these flies to lack dark pigment. It's similar to albinism.

Ebony Fly
Ebony
This mutation is also recessive and causes these flies to have dark pigment built up all over their bodies.

Legheaded Fly
Antennapedia
This mutation is dominant and may not be obvious at first. Look closely, those are not antennae, those are an extra set of legs coming out of the fly's head. These fruit flies have a mutation that tells the body to turn the antenna into legs during development.

Orange Eyed Fly
Orange Eyed
This mutation is recessive and does not affect the fly's eyesight. All unmutated flies have red eyes, so orange eyes indicate a mutation in the gene that make red pigment.

White Eyed Fly
White Eyed
This mutation is recessive and on the sex chromosome, meaning that males and females have different numbers of copies of this gene. Like the orange eyed flies, these flies have normal eye sight, but one of the genes responsible for producing the wild-type red eyes is defective.

Eyeless Fly
Eyeless
This mutation is recessive and makes the fly blind. These flies have a mutation that makes it so the body is not instructed to make eyes during development.

Click here to try your own experiment with these mutants.


Elizabeth Service
UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching
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