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Ultra-Microscope Unveils Secrets of the Fruit Fly

An Advanced Microscopy Method Used at the Vienna University of Technology allows Scientists to Study the Genetics of the Fruit Fly.

Eine "durchsichtige" Drosophila auf einem Siemens-Stern

Eine "durchsichtige" Drosophila auf einem Siemens-Stern

Eine "durchsichtige" Drosophila auf einem Siemens-Stern

Eine "durchsichtige" Drosophila auf einem Siemens-Stern

Thorax einer Drosophila

Thorax einer Drosophila

Thorax einer Drosophila

Thorax einer Drosophila

Nina Jährling vor dem Ultramikroskop

Nina Jährling vor dem Ultramikroskop

Nina Jährling vor dem Ultramikroskop

Nina Jährling vor dem Ultramikroskop

They are the tiny, pesky flies circling the fruit bowl in the kitchen: Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, is one of the most important species for genetic research. Using an ultra-microscope at the Vienna University of Technology, drosophila’s flight muscles have now been studied in great detail. A genetic switch was discovered, which determines the muscle type. A special kind of fibrillar muscles is needed so that the insect can fly – and the genes responsible for that kind of muscle type can be switched on and off by a protein. The results of this research project have now been published in the journal “nature”.

3D-Images of The Fruit Fly’s Flight Muscles
“The special ultra-microscopy-technique we are using enables us to create three dimensional, high-resulution images of a large number of flies within a very short period of time”, says Nina Jährling (Vienna University of Technology). These images are then used by biologists, who can relate visible differences in the flight muscles to genetic mutations. Several research groups collaborated in this project: The Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry (Martinsried, Germany – Frank Schnorrer’s research group for muscle dynamics”), the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen-Nuremberg and the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP, Vienna). Nina Jährling and Professor Hans-Ulrich Dodt, head of the research group for bioelectronics at Vienna University of Technology, also cooperate closely with the Medical University of Vienna.
At Vienna University of Technology, the fruit flies were probed with laser light. A thin layer of the muscle tissue starts to fluoresce – and this fluorescent light can be recorded and assembled to a 3D-model in the computer.

Further information:
Prof. Hans Ulrich Dodt
Institute of Solid State Electronics
Vienna University of Technology
Floragasse 7, 1040 Vienna
hans.dodt@tuwien.ac.at

Dipl. Biol. Nina Jährling
Institute of Solid State Electronics
Vienna University of Technology
Floragasse 7, 1040 Vienna
T: +43-1-58801-36263
nina.jaehrling@tuwien.ac.at