Caffeinated fruit flies help identify potential genes affecting insecticide resistance

March 26, 2014

To understand genetic mechanisms underlying insecticide resistance, scientists employed fruit flies and caffeine, a stimulant surrogate for xenobiotics in lab studies on resistance.

As Rachel Carson predicted 50 years ago in her groundbreaking book Silent Spring, crop pests are capable of outwitting the known as xenobiotics that are devised to kill them. This development of resistance to insecticides is a serious problem because it threatens crop production and thereby can influence the availability and costs of many foods as well as the economy.

To understand the underlying , University of Kansas scientists turned to the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and caffeine, a that is often employed as a surrogate for xenobiotics in lab studies on resistance.

The researchers tested the response to caffeine for over 1,700 lines of from the Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource (DSPR). They successfully mapped 10 quantitative trait loci, stretches of DNA containing genes linked to either resistance or susceptibility to caffeine, and subsequently identified Cyp12d1-d and Cyp12d1-p, two members of the cytochrome P450 gene family that codes for enzymes that are involved in detoxifying toxic compounds: The scientists found that the two genes contribute over 10 percent of the fruit flies' variation in resistance to caffeine.

This approach can be employed to uncover genes involved in resistance to essentially any drug of interest. In fact, in previous studies (G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, August 2013), the authors adopted this approach to identify 45 percent of the genetic variance in the toxicity of the chemotherapeutic medication methotrexate.

Explore further: Transformational fruit fly genome catalog completed

More information: Abstract: "Quantitative genetics of caffeine resistance in Drosophila melanogaster." Chad A. Highfill, Michael A. Najarro, Stuart J. Macdonald. Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. abstracts.genetics-gsa.org/cgi-bin/dros14s/showdetail.pl?absno=14531586

Related Stories

Transformational fruit fly genome catalog completed

February 8, 2012

Scientists searching for the genomics version of the holy grail – more insight into predicting how an animal's genes affect physical or behavioral traits – now have a reference manual that should speed gene discoveries ...

Recommended for you

How bees naturally vaccinate their babies

July 31, 2015

When it comes to vaccinating their babies, bees don't have a choice—they naturally immunize their offspring against specific diseases found in their environments. And now for the first time, scientists have discovered how ...

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

July 29, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.