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December 5, 2012

Part 2 of my fly feature pair…

Wellcome Trust Blog

Drosophila: the model model organism; the humble fruit fly with a noble (not to mention Nobel) place in the history of science. Having learned about its importance in genetics and developmental biology, I wanted to see Drosophila in action.

At a lab in Manchester, I did just that and discovered that the relevance of such research to human health can be unexpectedly direct.

“What do you want to see?”

No idea. “What do you have?”

“I could show you first instar dissection, third instar dissection, electric shock….”

Dr Richard Marley is a research technician in the Baines lab at the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences. In the face of my obvious ignorance, he takes a Drosophila larva (a pale, segmented, maggoty creature about one millimetre long), jiggles it in mounting fluid to wash off the leftovers from its feed – “They’re fantastic eating machines,” he says…

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