UW Researchers Study Evolution With Fruit Flies

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

UW researchers say a major discovery came from an animal no bigger than the head of a pin.

Genetics researchers used fruit flies to study evolution. They took a close look at the DNA of fruit flies to see how changes in a species become permanent. For example, they say male fruit flies have dark spots, which they use to appeal to females during a courtship dance. The team studies how those accidental mutations improve the species chance of survival. Those mutations then get preserved over time in the genetic code.

"In general we're gonna want to explore how what we have found applies really to the whole animal kingdom. We're fairly confident that the fundamental mechanisms we've discovered do apply, but it'll be a burden on us to explore other models of evolution of interesting traits,” says Professor Sean Carroll.

The journal Nature published the findings. A private foundation paid for the year and a half-long project.

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