Drosophila Unit: To The Teacher

1994 Woodrow Wilson Collection

This is a unit on Drosophila. This unit includes some history of Drosophila research; some information about Drosophila; dialogues or dramas which can be read or performed out loud in class; several labs; appendices which you might find useful; and a bibliography. This unit is not meant to be an introductory unit in genetics, but instead is a supplement to your classroom teaching. A previous understanding of basic genetics principles and the use of Punnett squares will allow your students to get the most benefit from these exercises.

We put this unit together so that you can use the entire unit or any part of it. The initial history and data about Drosophila was included for teachers, but can be copied and given to students. Some of that information is also repeated in the dialogues between Itsy and Bitsy, so the students will encounter it again…Which brings us to Itsy and Bitsy. Itsy and Bitsy are spiders, wolf spiders (Lycosida rabida), who are, naturally, very interested in flies! They are the device which we used to connect the labs and integrate them into a whole. However, each dialogue was also written so that it can be used with the lab it precedes if you wish to use the labs as single units. Itsy and Bitsy dialogues work very well, at all grade levels, and all sophistication levels, if you insist that they be performed or read with vigor (hybrid vigor, that is!). Feel free to be creative and add your own dialogue, or encourage your students to write their own!

The labs which are included in this unit begin with the whole organism (capturing Drosophila, setting up genetic crosses, and testing the effect of citrus oils on Drosophila larvae); continue on to a study of the chromosome (Drosophila larva salivary gland chromosome spreads); and finally end at the molecular level (chromatograms of Drosophila eye pigments). This sequence of labs imitates, to a certain degree, the course of Drosophila genetics work during this century.

Our intent is to give you and your students work on Drosophila which is interesting and usable, and which will result in the collection and analysis of significant data. We hope that when you try these labs you will let us know if you think of ways to make them more interesting. And remember to share your students' results with all of us!

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