On November 11, 1954, Dr. Syuiti Mori turned out the lights on a small group of fruit flies. More than sixty years later, the descendents of those flies have adapted to life without light. The flies, a Drosophila melanogaster variety now known as "Dark-fly,” out-compete their light-loving wild-type cousins when they live together in constant darkness, according to research reported in the February 2016 issue of the open-access journal G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, published by the Genetics Society of America. This competitive difference allowed the researchers to re-play the evolution of Dark-Fly and identify the genomic regions that contribute to its success in the dark. The G3 article is titled “Dynamics of Dark-Fly Genome Under Environmental Selections” and it served as the cover story of the February issue of the journal. "We hope understanding the genetics behind Dark-Fly's adaptations will shed light on how genes are selected during rapid evolution," says study leader Naoyuki Fuse, Ph.D., of Kyoto University in Japan. The Dark-Fly project is the longest-running example of an experimental evolution study where scientists follow a population over many generations. It is also the first to analyze genome evolution in a multi-cellular organism adapted to a defined condition in the lab. The project was initiated by Dr. Mori as part of a series of experiments investigating how the traits of fruit flies are altered in response to changes in their environment. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a heavily studied model organism often used to examine genetic changes during evolution. To keep the flies away from light, they are reared in vials kept in a large pot painted black on the inside and covered with a blackout cloth.
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