21 Larvae’s blog
By Yannis, Ella, Cara, Sara, Abbey, Erin & Ally
The science immersion experience is a program that allows students to have access to a wide range of technology and biological research, which improves their knowledge of lab work, and sparks an interest in the scientific field. During our time here, we focused on the mutations that have caused the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to become resistant to three different insecticides. Through several experiments and the help of many different kinds of scientists from across the world, we discovered how these mutations effect Drosophila on a physical and genetic level.
At the beginning of our week at GTAC, we completed several different tests on the Drosophila larvae, using three different types, one without any kind of mutation, and the two others had been exposed to high amounts of radiation, to give them certain mutations. We exposed these Drosophila larvae to three different insecticides, and then over a period of time measured their movement using advanced filming technology!
Below is an example of one of the three graphs we created to show the trend in resistance over the course of 120 minutes. It was clear that ‘line 1’, a mutated type of Drosophila, was the most resistant.
We worked with the Scanning Electron Microscope to gather incredibly detailed pictures of our Drosophila flies, and detect the differences between the three types. The technology works by firing electrons at the sample, and displaying the different depths and curves in an object to create a 3D image of it.
We also used the dissecting microscope to look at our fly samples, and snap several amazing shots demonstrating their differences! All of these pictures can be seen below.
After we utilised the ‘SEM’ to collect pictures of our samples, we began investigating the mutations on a genetic level, following the PCR process. The Polymerase Chain Reaction is basically the multiplication of DNA, where by the DNA is extracted from the Drosophila, heated to a temperature that causes each double helix to split, placed with a ‘primer’, and then an enzyme (TAQ) was added to the mixture, and synthesised more DNA. The process was very extensive, but this is the basic gist of it.
Afterwards we completed another experiment which was quite complicated, but effectively showed weather or not two different variations of the newly synthesised Drosophila DNA contained the Bari – Jheh insertion mutation, or a ‘Jumping Gene’, as it is commonly known.
At the end of this program, we left with a wealth of knowledge revolving around what it is like to complete biological, and chemical research in a lab environment. We learnt from some incredible scientists, who have completed degrees ranging from that of Drosophila resistance and insecticides, to medical research and evolution. And to ensure this program reached a wide range of people, with different levels of understanding, the GTAC staff gave effective lessons on the biology behind everything we did, including an in-depth explanation of genetics.