Honors Theses


Thomas Williams



Publication Date

Spring 4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Morphological traits for organisms result from the concerted action of numerous genes that are interconnected into a gene network at the level of transcriptional regulation. In each network, transcription factors control the spatial, temporal, and even sex-specific patterns of gene transcription. To better understand how a gene network operates during development, I investigated the network controlling a male-specific pattern of Drosophila melanogaster abdominal pigmentation. Using RNA interference, I reduced the expression of 558 transcription factor genes to identify those needed for normal pigmentation by the occurrence of aberrant pigmentation patterns. From this, I identified 28 genes, which include several that are known to play major roles in establishing animal body plans and that regulate chromatin structure. With this new wealth of known network genes and the diversity of pigmentation patterns among fruit fly species, my thesis supports future studies into the gene network basis for trait development and evolution.

Permission Statement

This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes.


Undergraduate research


Biology | Life Sciences

Included in

Biology Commons