YOU might have the 'Not Dead Yet' gene...

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by victoria, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. victoria

    victoria New Member

    funny but true...

    Fruit Fly Scientists Swatted Down Over 'Cheap Date'

    One of the privileges of being a scientist is that when you discover something new, you get to name it. And tradition says you can name it anything you want.

    Fruit flies, for example, are popular laboratory animals, and geneticists have been studying them for decades. When fruit fly geneticists find or create a gene variant that is new and different, they have a tradition — some would call it a bad habit — of having fun with the new name.

    Take the official scientific name for the gene in a fruit fly that makes it hard to develop a heart. Well, somebody saw The Wizard of Oz, because the gene is called "Tinman," i.e., if it only had a heart.

    And that's only the beginning.


    Here's a list of — I kid you not — real scientific names for fruit fly genes and the effects they produce:

    Stranded At Second: A fruit fly that dies, usually in the second larval stage of development.

    Agoraphobic: A fruit fly with larvae that look normal but never crawl out of the egg shell.

    Groucho Marx: A fruit fly that produces an excess of facial bristles.

    Cheap Date: A fruit fly that expresses high sensitivity to alcohol.

    Out Cold: A fruit fly that loses coordination when the temperature drops.

    Kenny: A fruit fly without this gene dies in two days, named for the South Park character who dies in each episode.

    Ken and Barbie: Fruit flies that fail to develop external genitalia.

    I'm Not Dead Yet (INDY): These fruit flies live longer than usual. This is from the Monty Python movie The Holy Grail, where a guy pushing a wheelbarrow calls out, "Bring out your dead," only to discover that one corpse is well enough to shout out, "I'm not dead yet!" over and over.

    Jokes Help Scientists Remember

    These names, concocted over the years by research scientists, have a scholarly benefit. Good jokes tend to stick in people's heads, so if a scientist happens to find a long-lived group of animals and also happens to remember that there's a longevity gene — aka "I'm Not Dead Yet" — in fruit flies, they can go to the computer, look up the fruit fly INDY gene and see if it turns up in their animal.

    Genes in one creature often show up in others. Since Charles Darwin, scientists have understood that all living things are related by ancestry and by the busy flow of viruses and parasites moving across cell lines, so genes can sometimes travel from critter to critter, including from a fruit fly to a human.

    But when human genes acquire fruit fly names, then these jokes become not so funny. So now, fruit fly geneticists are taking heat from their geneticist colleagues.

    Thou Shalt Not

    A few years ago, the Human Genome Organization Gene Nomenclature Committee, a fancy name for the folks who monitor gene names in humans, asked their members if they thought some fruit fly names were "inappropriate, demeaning and pejorative" to humans. According to the committee, most respondents said it would be OK to change some of those names to avoid embarrassing doctors and patients.

    Dr. Murray Feingold, a Massachusetts clinician who treats people with genetic diseases, says, "People want to know [the names of their missing or defective] gene and what the problem is and how did it go wrong."

    No Such Thing As An Inside Joke

    Since it's increasingly likely some fruit fly genes will show up in humans, Feingold warns that it will not be possible for doctors to hide a scientific name like "I'm Not Dead Yet."

    Patients these days can go on the Internet or to chat rooms, they can look at scientific literature, and they will see what the scientists are saying. A few years ago, those names were inside jokes. Now, says Feingold, "There is no such thing as inside jokes. The inside jokes are becoming outside jokes."

    And for a doctor, he says, these names become embarrassing "when that gene becomes responsible for some kind of medical problem, and I have to tell that patient, 'Well, I'm sorry things don't look so good because you have [the] I'm Not Dead Yet gene.' "

  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the interesting info.

    The common fruit fly is Drosophilidea. Popular for studying genetics because they
    have only 4 pairs of chromosomes.

    I remember that from my high school science project. I was supposed to X ray
    the fruit flies and observe the results on the offspring. With a little help
    from the friendly family dentist (we only had one in our village), I succeeded
    in killing all the specimens. "Not dead yet" did not apply.

    Gary Larson has a louse named after him: Strigiphilus garylarsoni. He says it
    sucks sap from plants rather than blood from animals.

    I think it's a shame if scientists have to give up taxonomy using sillly
    names. As we all know, scientists are brilliant but sometimes rather nerdy. If
    they can't be wild and crazy guys now and then by applying funny names, they
    are liable to strain some internal part and fruit fly off the handle.

    Rockadisus Homo Sapien Semisillius
  3. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I agree. There are also dinosaurs named after Spielberg, all 4 Beatles, Mick Jagger, and other singers. I wonder what they think, LOL. There is also a dino named after Bambi, and my favorites, Arthurdactylus Conan-Doylensis (guess who) and the Borogovia, after the borogoves from Jabberwocky.

    But then again, I guess nobody will be told they're suffering from or with any of those critters... I don't think parasites have such inventive names, at least a quick google search didn't turn up any.

    BTW, there is a gene called 'after hours' that people who are night owls have...
    I'd bet I & both my kids have that one! And I'd bet we inherited it from my mother LOL!

    Victorius Nonsensius Inanesis

  4. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I like reading odd news of all kinds... so sometimes I just browse around.

    I'd agree with Gary Larson, how many of us get semi-immortalized? Even if we've become famous briefly.

    A friend in HS did all her science fair research on fruit flies... still can't remember what on, tho. Rock, did you enter into MN's science fairs ever? Assuming you didn't kill the subjects...

    Now, you wanna hear something really weird but fascinating? My DH did his masters (experimental psych) research on mimosa putica, the "sensitive plant". If it gets touched or it's windy, the leaves close up. His research was about a model of learning... he set up an electrode to mildly shock it... the plant actually learned to re-open its leaves and avoid the stationary electrode after 'x' amount of shocks. Which means the plant had a rudimentary way to actually learn.

    His professors told him to NOT to publish this experiment even tho they accepted it for his master's degree - why? Because he was intending on being a full-time researcher, and he would not be taken seriously as a scientist if it was published. (This was in the early 1970s after the books/experiments about plants not doing well if shouted at etc...think there was a book(s) even... and most laughed at it.)

    And no, he didn't drink a mimosa either to celebrate his master's degree LOL. Not even for his PhD.

    Victorianius Nomalarkeysis
  5. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    A Steven Spielberg dinosaur, huh? I once had lunch at the restaurant his mom owned
    here in LA. I asked her why she didn't have a Spielberger on the menu.

    I guess Gary Larson is another example of the famous Scandihooven sense of humor.
    See Ole and Lena jokes.

    I don't remember any expression on the dentist's face, Jean. I kinda think the
    fruit flies passed away after they and I left the dentist's office. Nope, never
    participated in a science fair, Victoria. I think the were invented after I was outta

    How could DH not drink a mimosa to celebrate? Has he no sense of what's proper
    and fitting? So did he work as a scientist, teacher, therapist? I was a pysch
    major myself. I think I took it as a form of therapy. No meds and little therapy
    available when I was young.