Transgenic Fly Virtual Lab
This interactive, modular lab explores the techniques used to make transgenic flies and demonstrates how these flies can be used to study gene expression.
Scientists use transgenic organisms, which contain DNA that scientists inserted in the organisms’ genomes, to research many biological processes. In this lab, students produce and conduct experiments with virtual versions of transgenic Drosophila fruit flies. Students first create transgenic flies that glow when a gene involved in circadian rhythms is activated. They then use these flies in three experiments to examine gene expression under different conditions and in different locations in the fruit fly’s body. Throughout this lab, students engage in key science practices, including evaluating a hypothesis, collecting data, and interpreting graphs.
The lab contains an interactive lab space, an informational notebook, and embedded quiz questions. It also includes supplementary resources, such as a glossary of scientific terms, images of equipment and tools, and a list of references.
The accompanying worksheet provides structure and guidance as students perform the tutorials, experiments, and quizzes in the lab.
Student Learning Targets
- Describe how recombinant DNA technology is used to produce transgenic organisms.
- Explain how transgenic organisms can be used to explore biological processes.
Explain how light production through a reporter gene is used as an external marker of internal molecular events.
Collect and analyze data, including graphs.
biological clock, bioluminescence, DNA construct, experimental design, genetic engineering, genetically modified organism (GMO), laboratory technique, light-dark cycle, luciferase, promoter
Plautz, Jeffrey D., Maki Kaneko, Jeffrey C. Hall, and Steve A. Kay. “Independent photoreceptive circadian clocks throughout Drosophila.” Science 278, 5343 (1997): 1632–1635. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.278.5343.1632.
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The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. No rights are granted to use HHMI’s or BioInteractive’s names or logos independent from this Resource or in any derivative works.
HS-LS1-1; SEP1, SEP3, SEP4
AP Biology (2019)
IST-1.K, IST-1.P, IST-2.A, IST-2.B, IST-2.C, IST-2.D, IST-2.E; SP3, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
Common Core (2010)
Vision and Change (2009)
CC3; DP1, DP2