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.