Thursday, September 19, 2013
Adam Engler kicks off fruit fly experiment at High Tech High
High Tech High 11th grader Lizzy Marples practices anesthetizing fruit flies with carbon dioxide in preparation for a six-week experiment led by Adam Engler, a professor of bioengineering at UC San Diego. As part of his research into how genotype affects heart function and longevity, Engler and Ph.D. student Gaurav Kaushik, bred fruit flies with genetic mutations to turn off genes important to heart function. The students will spend the next six weeks tracking these mutants along with a control group in a blind study to see whether the mutation has an adverse impact on the lifespan of the fruit fly. The natural lifespan of a fruit fly is typically six to seven weeks, making them model organisms for longevity experiments. Despite many obvious differences, the proteins in the fruit fly heart are 82 percent similar to that of humans.
Kaushik shows High Tech High biology students how to "put fruit flies to sleep" for counting.