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Genetic Linkage

A Fruit Fly Love Story: The Making of a Mutant 2020

For Valentine's Day, I offer a fly's eye view of my PhD research on the mutation Antennapedia, which replaces fruit flies' antennae with legs. 


"The Making of a Mutant" initially appeared in this millennium at Scientific American blogs in 2012. But I wrote it in 1978, sneaking it into a manuscript bound for the journal Genetics to see if my mentor, Thom Kaufman, was paying attention. He was. My story was referenced at his retirement party, generations of genetics grad students at Indiana University having read it.


The story started as a joke, "fly porn." But over the years it has morphed into a metaphor for our times. It's a little like this year's Academy Award winning film Parasite being much more than the crazy narrative it at first seems, instead a simmering statement on classism.


Today, Anton O. Pedia's tale of being different is more timely than ever, as the increasing mixing of people of different ancestries hurtles forward against a frightening new backdrop of hatred, division, marginalization, and dehumanization. As the flies find out, the perception of being different is transient. Life is all about context.


The events and facts reported here are all accurate, to the best of my knowledge.




She knew she was different long before her mother had told her the truth. A sensitive youngster, she could tell from the sneering glances of her neighbors that she was, somehow, not quite like them.


To continue reading, go to DNA Science.

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