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The use of conditional lethals in the analysis of development of Drosophila melanogaster Tarasoff, Mary Somerville


Conditional lethals which survive under "permissive" conditions but die under "restrictive" conditions have greatly facilitated genetic and biochemical analyses in micro-organisms. One class of conditional lethals, the so-called temperature-sensitives, has been recovered from ethyl methanesulfonate-induced lethals in Drosophila melanogaster. Such mutants survive at 17°C or 22°C but die at 29°C and appear to map genetically as point mutants. These mutants may be useful in identifying previously undetected loci and in studying mitotic, meiotic and developmental processes. In Drosophila gross developmental studies indicate that recessive temperature-sensitive (ts) lethals may have specific developmental effects. By means of shifting different cultures from one temperature to the other at successive intervals, the period during which the restrictive temperature (29°C) prevented survival could be ascertained. Each ts lethal could be classified with respect to its effective lethal phase(s), its period(s) of temperature-sensitivity and any effect on visible morphological characteristics. Four sex-linked recessive ts lethals were studied extensively with respect to their genetic and developmental action. Each of these mutants is representative of a different class of lethals with specific properties: pupal lethality, indispensability, sexual dimorphism, and parental influence. The potential use of these and other ts lethals in genetic and developmental analyses is discussed.

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