Scuttle Fly Study

Scuttle Fly Study

Researchers at Duke University's Noor lab of Evolutionary Genetics are developing a new "model system" for addressing interesting evolutionary genetic questions: the scuttle fly, Megaselia scalaris. This species offers many interesting facets: for example, it bears homomorphic sex chromosomes, and sex is determined by a male-determining region that actually transposes among chromosomes at a low, but detectable, rate.

The researchers are now in the process of obtaining complete, high-coverage genome sequences from males and females to isolate the region(s) distinguishing the sexes and begin deeper investigation into the genetic and evolutionary questions. Megaselia scalaris is both cosmopolitan and a "pest" species, being associated with myiasis and other infections of humans, as well as having potential forensic entomological applications. The researchers anticipate incidental benefits to society from explorations of this interesting biological system.

Project Details

  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Duke University Center for Theoretical & Mathematical Sciences, Noor lab of Evolutionary Genetics
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Less than 1 hour per week

    We will send participants collection vials, detailed collection instructions, and priority shipping box with prepaid return postage. Participants can either try to catch the flies using the vials, or set up a funnel trap baited with a cotton ball or sponge soaked in wine/vinegar and old fruit and transfer the flies to the collection vials later. The shipping box can be returned to us via any home mailbox; thus, no need for an extra trip to the Post Office.

    For additional information, contact Suzanne McGaugh, postdoctoral researcher,

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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