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Taking stock of the Drosophila research ecosystem

  • Author(s): Bilder, D
  • Irvine, KD
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2017 Bilder and Irvine. With a century-old history of fundamental discoveries, the fruit fly has long been a favored experimental organism for a wide range of scientific inquiries. But Drosophila is not a “legacy” model organism; technical and intellectual innovations continue to revitalize fly research and drive advances in our understanding of conserved mechanisms of animal biology. Here, we provide an overview of this “ecosystem” and discuss how to address emerging challenges to ensure its continued productivity. Drosophila researchers are fortunate to have a sophisticated and ever-growing toolkit for the analysis of gene function. Access to these tools depends upon continued support for both physical and informational resources. Uncertainty regarding stable support for bioinformatic databases is a particular concern, at a time when there is the need to make the vast knowledge of functional biology provided by this model animal accessible to scientists studying other organisms. Communication and advocacy efforts will promote appreciation of the value of the fly in delivering biomedically important insights. Well-tended traditions of large-scale tool development, open sharing of reagents, and community engagement provide a strong basis for coordinated and proactive initiatives to improve the fly research ecosystem. Overall, there has never been a better time to be a fly pusher.

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