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Virtual Fly Lab

By Apsugen Staff, 10/24/2014 - 01:01
HHMI Virtual Fly Lab

Are you new to microinjection and microinjection? Are you new to the area of transgenics? Do you need to help bring a group of new lab members or a class full of undergraduates up to speed on maintaining model organisms and utilizing them for genetics experiments? Well, we've begun compiling some excellent resources to help you out.

HHMI Resources

Many of labs we've worked and consulted with over the years are affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Unknown to many researchers and teachers is a variety of educational resources they offer through their Biointeractive website including short films, animations, and even mobile apps. In particular, we'd like to take moment to point out their Virtual Lab Series which covers a variety of topics as diverse as bacterial identification, lizard evolution, cardiology, and immunology.

Transgenic Fly Virtual Lab

Of specific use to some of our customers who are just getting into microinjection and transgenics or teaching biology or microbiology classes which include maintaining model organisms and utilizing them for transgenic research is that HHMI's virtual lab series includes a Transgenic Fly Virtual Lab!

The virtual lab allows the user to read (briefly) about all of the major portions of making transgenic flies and then using them to study circadian ryhythms and genetics. Naturally, one will want to do some additional reading and research about individual portions (entire books have been written about topics like "fly pushing" e.g.: Fly Pushing: The Theory and Practice of Drosophila Genetics). The virtual lab covers the following broad general topics:

  1. Make transgenic flies.
    • Prepare DNA that will be incorporated into the fly genome.
    • Prepare fly embryos.
    • Prepare microcapillary needles
    • Inject fly embryos with DNA.
    • Breed flies.
    • Select transgenic progeny.
    • Examine light output from transgenic adults.
  2. Use transgenic flies to study circadian rhythms and genetics.
    • Measure per-luc gene expression (that is, light emissions) under different light-dark conditions.
    • Examine different fly body parts for per-luc expression.

While this virtual lab is specific to Drosophila, the general overview is very relevant to a variety of other model organisms including C. elegans, Zebrafish, Xenopus mice, rats, and many others that might be used for transgenics or translational medicine. It can be used as a great, quick introduction to the subject for new lab members or biology students who are just being introduced to this important area of basic research.

Do you have a favorite teaching or research related resource? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. The best suggestions will be featured in upcoming posts to help out the broader research community.