Relating Gene Regions to Phenotype in Drosophila melanogaster Female Fertility
Biology, Dr. Bloch-Qazi
About My Research:
Females of many species in the animal kingdom undergo sperm storage, a process in which sperm are relocated into a female sperm storage organ. The sperm are kept viable within the organ throughout a varying length of time, and finally relocated from the organ to the uterus so as to fertilize an egg. Currently, not much is known about the mechanisms of sperm storage. One way to learn more is to isolate the genes that cause or influence sperm storage, so this summer, those of us in Dr. Bloch Qazi’s lab are performing a genetic screen of the 2nd and 3rd chromosome in fruit flies. We are using fruit flies because, among other reasons, they are easy to manipulate genetically, easy to care for, and have a quick generation time. To run our experiment, we use specific genetic lines of flies called deficiency lines, in which one of a fly’s two copies of a gene has been removed, leaving the fly with only one copy of the specific gene. If the gene that has been removed influences the mechanisms involved with female sperm storage, sperm storage may be changed due to the absence of the gene, resulting in changes in the amount of offspring produced by an individual female. Through this experiment we may be able to further understand the role of female sperm storage in physiology, development, and sexual selection, as well as learn methods to control animal populations.
This research was supported by the 2007 Greater Gustavus Summer Research Fund.
In the student's own words:
"I think that conducting summer research at Gustavus rather than elsewhere allows for a greater involvement in the project. If I were doing an offcampus REU [Research Experience for Undergraduates] this summer, I feel that I would not be as connected to the project, because after the end of the summer I most likely would not be working on that same project again. However, by doing research at Gustavus I have the opportunity to continue on with the project once school resumes, and also, since I have developed some of my own questions this summer, I have the freedom and encouragement from my advisor to pursue them."
Females of many animal species perform female sperm storage, a process in which females store viable sperm for extended periods of time. To further elucidate the mechanisms of sperm storage in female fruit flies we performed a deficiency screen of the 2nd chromosome to find genes that have a haploinsufficient effect upon sperm storage. Of the several thousand genes on the 2nd chromosome, we have identified 15 genes with potential sperm storage effects. Through this experiment we may be able to further understand the role of female sperm storage in physiology, development, and sexual selection, as well as learn methods to control animal populations.
More student thoughts:
"One part of doing research this summer that I have enjoyed is getting to know some of the professors better. It is interesting to hear how they became interested in the scientific questions that they are pursuing and also just to get to know them better as people."
- Isaac presented his results at the 2007 Fall Chemistry-Biology Research Symposium. In summer 2008, he studied bacterial evolutionary biology as a student researcher at Indiana University.