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Have you ever noticed the tiny fruit flies flitting around your fruit bowl in the summertime? Did you know that they have been used for genetic research for nearly a hundred years? Genetics is the study of how traits are passed from one generation to the next. The types of living things that work best for genetic studies are those that are easy to keep in a lab, have lots of offspring, and most importantly, have short generations. A generation is the average time between the birth of the parents and the birth of the parents’ offspring. A human generation is twenty five years or more. A fruit fly generation is two weeks.Fruit flies have other characteristics helpful for research. Fruit flies have many genetically derived traits, like red, white, and brown eye color, that are easy to identify. It is also helpful for research that it’s fairly easy to tell the sexes apart. Male fruit flies are smaller, and their abdomens are less pointy than females’ abdomens, with a distinctive black patch.Some of the most important information discovered about fruit flies involves chromosomes.Chromosomes contain DNA in cells that gives instructions for how organisms function and develop. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Fruit flies have only 4. One of the four pairs of chromosomes is called the sex chromosomes. How the sex chromosomes are paired determines whether the fly is male or female. Male fruit flies, and male humans, have an X and Y chromosome. Female fruit flies, and female humans, have two X chromosomes. In the early 1900s, fruit fly geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan used his extensive data on multiple fruit fly generations to determine how chromosomes were related to genes in all organisms.

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Fecha publicación: 12.5.2016

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