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Surviving Change -- Fruit Fly gets a new Genus

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Whenever you think there is just too much changing too fast in your life -- be comforted that at least you have not changed your genus or your species:

The star subject of genetic research — the Drosophila melanogaster fruitfly — may lose its name.

This is an anticipated repercussion of a decision last week by the London-based International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. It had spent more than two years debating a petition that would have protected the hallowed name while opening the way to a major reorganization of the Drosophila genus, which includes at least 1,450 species.

The commission, which oversees the naming of all species, rejected the petition, setting the stage for a likely renaming of D. melanogaster and hundreds of related species. Among biologists who study various fruitfly species to link genes to traits, the 1 April ruling was no joke.

"Oh my God," says Therese Markow, a geneticist at the University of California, San Diego, who was reached in the Sonoran Desert, where she was collecting fruitflies. Markow, who is director of the university's Drosophila Species Stock Center, added that extensive name changes could "wreak havoc" in the Drosophila literature and databases.

Read More: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100407/full/464825a.html


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