Devon Seibert, Gavin Christy, Rachel Stanojev


Presentation: 10:20-10:40 a.m., Kennedy Union 311



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Two long-standing goals in biology are to understand how genes are used during an organism’s development to make morphological traits, and how genes change to facilitate the origins, modifications, and losses of these traits. Two powerful approaches to identify the critical genes are through gain and loss of function experiments. The former experiments look at the effects when the expression of genes is induced in new cellular places, at new times in life, and/or at elevated levels of expression. The latter experiments cause the absence of expression for genes from their normal places, times, and/or levels of expression. While many methods have been devised to accomplish such experiments, these methods are generally too cumbersome to apply to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of genes. In recent years, scientists have found ways to use RNA-interference and CRISPER/Cas9 gene editing to cause both gain and loss of function mutations for specific genes. These methods are being combined with resources for the fruit fly species Drosophila (D.) melanogaster to target a steadily increasing number of this species’ genes. Our research project applied these approaches and genetic tools to cause gain and loss of function for genes suspected to play a role in the development and evolution of the male-specific pigmentation of the D. melanogaster abdomen. The greater than 30 genes whose altered function distorts this pigmentation feature will be the focus of future studies to reveal the mechanisms of gene function and their evolution.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Capstone Project

Primary Advisor

Tom Williams

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Scholarship; Diversity

Identification of Novel Genes Responsible for a Rapidly Evolving Fruit Fly Trait by Gain and Loss of Gene Function Experiments