Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892



Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892
Textbook Problem

Design an Experiment The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster can distinguish a large repertoire of odors in the environment. Their response may be to move toward food or away from danger. Moreover, particular odors play an important role in their mating behavior. The olfactory organs of a fruit fly are the antennae and an elongated bulge on the head called the maxillary pulp. Because of the ease with which fruit fly genes can be manipulated, identifying and studying their olfactory receptors likely would contribute significantly to our understanding of neural pathways of odor recognition more generally. How could you identify candidate fruit fly genes that encode components of olfactory receptors?

Summary Introduction

To review:

The experiment that could be performed to identify the genes that encode the olfactory receptor components in fruit fly, keeping in mind that the fruit flies are subjected to frequent mutations.


The vertebrates have odor receptors, which are located in the nose. In simple organisms, like fruit flies, the maxillary pulp and antennae act as odor receptors. The fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) use their antennae to detect pheromones from other fruit flies that help them in mating. The odor receptors are made from different types of proteins that got evolved during the course of evolution.


The receptors are protein structures that are embedded in the plasma membrane of a cell. The odor receptors detect chemical signals that result in the generation of action potential. The receptors are composed of different protein subunits that are embedded together in the plasma membrane of the cell. To identify the best candidate gene for odor receptors, the fruit flies are subjected to gene knock in and knock outs.

Since vertebrate organisms have evolved from much simpler organisms, most of our genes are related to those organisms. The fruit flies are model organisms for genetic studies because most of the genes of vertebrate organisms are similar to those of fruit flies, and they can be easily manipulated on the molecular levels. The genes that are suspected to encode odor receptors are genetically knocked out in fruit flies, and their behavior is analyzed...

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