22 June, 2021

Evolution Diary

A fascinating, long-running soap…. Can you track 800 generations in front of your eyes? You need fruit flies—the go-to organism for scientists who track the inner drama of life.

Illustration by Saahil
Evolution Diary
Fly On The Wall

To hear ‘evolution’ is to think of fossils and the history of life. Most people are surprised that evolution can be studied experimentally, just like other areas of science.

Well, the reality is that we routinely do experiments in evolution, and experimental evolution is a scientific area where India really shines. Over half the research groups in the world that do long-term evolutionary experiments are in India, spread across nine different cities.

Formula One Flies

In 1997, our lab began to ask how organisms evolve when under pressure to become adults rapidly. We decided to use fruit flies (Drosophila) for this work. Fruit flies are easy to rear in large numbers, can turn over a generation in 10-11 days, and have an adult lifespan of 30-40 days. In nature, they mostly feed on rotting plant material, typically fruit, but are not crop pests. They have long been used for studies in genetics,...

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