2012 SURF: Evolution of Fruit Fly Wings
Selection to Change the Wings in Drosophila
The goal of this project is to carry out controlled selective breeding on wings in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) so that we can shed light on the genetics of evolution. Fly wings are slightly different in closely related species, and very different in distantly related species. This experiment is showing that gradual changes are occurring every generation through selective breeding, so that the capacity for long term change can be quantified.
This experiment applies Darwinian selection to the creation of modifications in the wing. Can wings be changed gradually by selection on small variations, or only through big and uncommon mutational steps? Can major change be achieved by small additive steps, simply by consistently selecting those flies that vary slightly in the same direction? Finally, why are some features easy to change while others are difficult to change?