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J Undergrad Neurosci Educ. 2012 Fall;11(1):A139-48. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

The fundamentals of flying: simple and inexpensive strategies for employing Drosophila genetics in neuroscience teaching laboratories.

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  • 1Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn VA 20147;


Drosophila researchers have developed a powerful suite of genetic techniques for studying the neural basis of animal behavior. Many of these tools can be exported to neuroscience teaching laboratories (Berni et al., 2010; Pulver et al., 2011a,b), but often neuroscience educators lack the basic knowledge and resources to obtain, generate and rear transgenic fruit flies on their own. Fly researchers in turn may take for granted resources that are readily available in research laboratories, but out of reach for educators. Our goal is to provide a primer for neuroscience educators who want to incorporate Drosophila genetics into their teaching, but have limited knowledge of fruit fly genetics, and/or small budgets. First we review the available methods for manipulating gene expression in Drosophila. Then we provide educators with blueprints for obtaining transgenic animals tailored for specific types of teaching modules. We outline simple techniques for rearing transgenic Drosophila, performing genetic crosses, and preparing a teaching laboratory without the use of expensive animal-care facilities. Overall, we try to break down the practical barriers educators may face when integrating modern neurogenetic experiments into teaching laboratories.


animal behavior; genetics; neuroethology, transgenic organisms; neuroscience education

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