Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Funnier Gene

In fruit fly genetics, genes are named not by the visible, normal, wildtype phenotypic expression, but by the distinguishable mutant form that tells us something isn't how it usually should be. For example, the Curly gene (abbreviated Cy) is expressed normally as standard, flat fruit fly wings. Actual curly wings are only what we see when Cy isn't functioning properly, or when it isn't expressed at all because of random mutation or other genetic or enviornmental factors. The name is not describing what we observe everyday in normal conditions, but the resulting characteristic when normal function is absent.

Another example: Lets say I discover Matt and I need to assign a distinguishable name, one that characterizes life in his absence. I might name him Funnier (abbreviated Fnr) because things are much funnier than they otherwise would be when he's not around.

Here he is in his normal, wildtype expression. Not so funny.