Genetics

A beetle reveals its genetic secrets

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Science  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6252, pp. 1067
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6252.1067-a

Both overlapping and distinct genes regulate cellular processes in fruit flies and red flour beetles

PHOTO: © NIGEL CATTLIN,/VISUALS UNLIMITED/CORBIS

Sequencing tells us the molecular makeup of a genome, but genetic screens—an experimental technique that uses RNA interference (RNAi) or mutagenesis to select for specific phenotypes of interest—reveal gene function. Genetic screens of the Drosophila genome have informed scientists about how cell signaling, metabolism, and development occur in these insects. However, whether other insects exhibit similar biology remains unclear. To find out, Schmitt-Engel et al. performed an RNAi screen of the red flour beetle and found both similarities and differences in the genes and pathways that regulate beetle development, signaling, and physiology as compared to Drosophila. Broadening genetic screens to other insects may prove instrumental for understanding insect gene function.

Nat. Commun. 6, 782 (2015)

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