Illustrating a book of bits

This is not just a pretty picture: the microscopic image of fruit fly eyes, wings and lymph glands is shedding new light on genes linked to organ development in humans.  

They come from an encyclopaedia of more than 1000 genes – including 421 whose functions were previously unknown – compiled by 245 university undergraduates and 31 high school students as part of a project at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Fruit flies are often used in research because their cells have similar DNA to that of human cells. The young researchers hope their work, published in the journal G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics, will be useful for scientists who study the genes involved in human processes like sleep, vision and memory.

“I expect this will be a highly cited paper and a valuable resource to life scientists,” says UCLA’s Tracy Johnson. 

An analysis of each gene is available on the G-TRACE Expression Database.

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