Eye Color Mutations in Drosophila melanogaster.
Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly, is a frequently used organism for genetic research. Due to the fact that it is small and occupies little space, has simple food requirements, completes its life cycle in less than two weeks, and produces large numbers of offspring with genetic variations, Drosophila melanogaster is an ideal subject for genetic research. Furthermore, because significant genetic research has already been done on the fruit fly, data on tasks such as mutant typing and gene mapping is readily available. .
In order to successfully study the genetics of any organism, it is important to know and understand their life cycle. There are four distinct stages in the lifecycle of Drosophila melanogaster- egg, larva, pupa, and adult. This complete cycle, not including adulthood, takes anywhere from 10-14 days at room temperature, broken down into approximately eight days in the egg and larval stages, and six days in the pupal stage. An egg hatches and is followed by three sequential larval stages. Once in the pupal stage, metamorphosis takes place. The adult emerges, and can begin laying eggs within two days, after which they are fertile for as long as they live. This relatively short life cycle allows scientists to look at numerous numbers of progeny, even in short-term studies (Carolina Drosophila Manual, Carolina Biological Supply Company). .
Some of the most commonly studied mutations in Drosophila melanogaster are those dealing with the eyes. Generally speaking, mutations occur because of defects to genes that code for certain genetic traits. Drosophila melanogaster has four pairs of chromosomes in every cell. These chromosomes have areas on them that code for specific traits, dealing with eye color and other phenotypic traits such as body and wing shape. Any defect to any portion of these chromosomes will cause alteration to the genes of the progeny.