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Genetics. May 2004; 167(1): 207–216.
PMCID: PMC1470876

Toward a comprehensive genetic analysis of male fertility in Drosophila melanogaster.


Drosophila melanogaster is a widely used model organism for genetic dissection of developmental processes. To exploit its full potential for studying the genetic basis of male fertility, we performed a large-scale screen for male-sterile (ms) mutations. From a collection of 12,326 strains carrying ethyl-methanesulfonate-treated, homozygous viable second or third chromosomes, 2216 ms lines were identified, constituting the largest collection of ms mutations described to date for any organism. Over 2000 lines were cytologically characterized and, of these, 81% failed during spermatogenesis while 19% manifested postspermatogenic processes. Of the phenotypic categories used to classify the mutants, the largest groups were those that showed visible defects in meiotic chromosome segregation or cytokinesis and those that failed in sperm individualization. We also identified 62 fertile or subfertile lines that showed high levels of chromosome loss due to abnormal mitotic or meiotic chromosome transmission in the male germ line or due to paternal chromosome loss in the early embryo. We argue that the majority of autosomal genes that function in male fertility in Drosophila are represented by one or more alleles in the ms collection. Given the conservation of molecular mechanisms underlying important cellular processes, analysis of these mutations should provide insight into the genetic networks that control male fertility in Drosophila and other organisms, including humans.

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Selected References

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