BioLine EEB Authors

The flies are alright

Taking care of insects in the pursuit of science

It’s always warm in the fly room. The frequent clicking and spraying of the humidifier makes the air warm and thick, imbued with the unmistakable sticky smell of fly food. For those of us working here, it is an escape from the blustering Minnesota winter even if we have to shed all those layers to get comfortable.  Comfort is essential because you need to be on your toes when taking care of so many lives. 

Fresh forays into fly vision

Flies in the lab get a color TV while researchers watch their neurons fire. Researchers at the UMN devise a new set up to get a deeper look at how flies see color. 

Fly eyes play an important role in picking up information about the world around them, finding food and avoiding danger. But before this information can become useful, neural circuits in the brain need to simplify and extract the important components. Within milliseconds these little insects make complex decisions about where to turn, what to eat and what to avoid. 

Natural selection imitates a highly competitive economy – then everybody dies

We typically expect natural selection to improve the condition of a species, leading to their long-term survival; however, 99.9 percent of all species on Earth are now extinct. It seems that natural selection might be pretty good at helping us make it through today, but pretty awful at preparing us for tomorrow.