Are you related to a fly?

You have a gene that can make flies grow wings. A particular fruit fly has a mutation in the gene for wing development. As a result, it has no wings. Scientists have found that there is a similar human gene to the fly gene required for wing growth. Amazingly, when they put this human gene into a growing mutant fly, the fly grew completely normal wings. Scientists believe that in humans this gene is involved in the growth of arms and legs.

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A fruit fly missing a gene for wing development (above). A fruit fly with the missing wing gene replaced by a human gene (below). The fly has grown completely normal wings!

Why are scientists studying bacterial DNA?

Researchers are studying the genes of harmful bacteria in order to help them design new antibiotics: medicines that kill bacteria. Bacterial genes can also help explain how our own genes work. Compared to the human genome, the genomes for bacteria are tiny: just a couple of million base pairs long. Scientists have sequenced many bacterial genomes, starting with the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae in 1995.

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Electron micrograph of Haemophilus influenzae bacteria (yellow).


Principal Funder:

Wellcome trust

Major Sponsors:

GlaxoSmithKline life technologies