The Scuttle Fly (Megaselia abdita) (© 2011, CSHL Press)

Drosophila melanogaster, one of the best-studied genetic model systems in developmental biology, has a new laboratory companion:  the scuttle fly (Megaselia abdita).  The scuttle fly is phylogenetically located between Drosophila and mosquito.  It is easy to culture in the lab, and the embryos are suitable for functional studies.  For these reasons, Urs Schmidt-Ott (University of Chicago) has helped to develop the scuttle fly experimental system to assist his laboratory’s goals of understanding differences between Drosophila and mosquito development, and to help uncover genetic mechanisms of evolutionary change in insects.

In this month’s issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, Schmidt-Ott and two of his lab members, Ab. Matteen Rafiqi and Steffen Lemke, have published a series of articles on the scuttle fly. Their introductory article includes background information about the species, advice on scuttle fly sources and husbandry, uses of the scuttle fly in evo-devo studies and in forensic entomology, and information about related species. While many standard Drosophila methods can be applied to scuttle fly, Schmidt-Ott and colleagues also wrote step-by-step protocols on maintaining cultures and collecting eggs, preparing embryos for injection, fixing and devitellinizing embryos, and preparing cuticles from injected embryos that have been specifically optimized for this species.

The scuttle fly is the latest addition to our ever-growing collection of emerging model organisms.  Click here for a complete list.