Failure to Launch: Characterization of a Flightless Strain of Drosophila hydei



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Drosophila hydei is a fruit fly that last shared a common ancestor with the model organism D. melanogaster 60 million years ago. A domesticated strain, flightless D. hydei, is a feeder fly for amphibians, and breeders noticed that if cultures were exposed to high temperatures, some imagines of the next generation eclosed capable of flight. Heat shock proteins can correct misfolded proteins, masking a mutation which is revealed when heat shock challenges the heat shock protein system. In this case, heat shock results in a regain of function. This novel feature provided the impetus for this study. One of the most noticeable effects of developmental temperature on a fruit fly is on wing size, and insufficient wing area can inhibit flight. Wing loading was not conclusively different between flightless and wild type D. hydei. Thoracic muscle birefringence was diminished in flightless flies compared to wild type. This indicates that the thoracic muscle is abnormal and therefore inhibits flight. Short duration heat shock at multiple developmental stages did not yield flying flies. Long duration heat shock may provide better results. A potentially homologous locus in D. melanogaster is Actn. Further characterization of the muscles of flightless D. hydei would faciliate comparison.