A Day in the Life of a Fruit Fly Scientist
So what's it like to work in a fruit fly lab everyday? Help one scientist get through her To Do list for the day by clicking on each task below.
- Push flies
Kathryn uses carbon dioxide to put the flies to sleep and then looks at them up close under the microscope. She has to look for specific mutations and compare the number of mutant and wildtype, or normal, flies to see if the fly cross, or mating of two flies, went correctly.
Here she has crossed two carriers of the recessive ebony mutation so she expects 25% of the flies to have ebony colored bodies and 75% to have wildtype colored bodies. This Punnett square shows the cross:
- Prepare DNA sample
Kathryn now has to confirm that the flies she found have the mutated ebony gene. She prepares some of the ebony flies and extracts their DNA using a special solution. She then makes copies of the DNA using a polymerase chain reaction.
- Run gel to look at DNA sample
Now she uses gel electrophoresis to separate the DNA pieces by size.
- Look at gel
The DNA bands in the gel light up when exposed to UV light. This special box exposes the gel to UV light and takes a picture that she can save.
In this room the UV light is not contained in a box so she to wear protective gear to protect herself from the damaging UV.
It worked! The gel confirmed that the flies have the mutated ebony gene.
- Analyze DNA results
- Western blot to study proteins
Western blots are used to look at proteins. Once the protein has been extracted and run through a gel, it is developed in a dark room like a photo.
- Make solutions
While the lab does order some solutions, Kathryn makes a lot of solutions at her bench. All of these bottles are solutions she has made herself that she uses for different experiments.
- Attend lab meeting
- Update lab notebook
Everything that she does in the lab is recorded in her notebooks. This is a critical step because she frequently reviews the work she has done in the past and because these notebooks are used as references for other scientists.
- Consult list of phenotypes to design next cross.
UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching