Want a "Designer" Fruit Fly with Stripes instead of Spots?

April 13 2010

WHY have butterflies, birds, fish and other animals developed their intricately-designed, colorful body patterns? Scientists generally agree that it's about camouflage and attracting a mate.

HOW those colors and patterns come about now seems to have been figured out by scientists as well.

Investigating the North American fruit fly, Drosophila guttifera, scientists discovered a morphogen, a protein present in embryonic tissue and encoded by a gene known as Wingless. The morphogen acts near existing physical landmarks such as the intersections of veins and cross veins on the wing.

Determining the role of the Wingless morphogen took 3 years and the injection of nearly 20,000 fly embryos to accomplish.

Category: Now You Know
Filed under: Insects, Genetic Engineering, Animals