New FLIS Plasmid (April Fools 2022)

By Rachel Leeson

FLIS and Flies 

Drosophila, more commonly known as fruit flies, have been an important animal model for research, particularly genetics research, for decades. Its short life cycle, reasonably close genetic homology to humans, and small size have allowed scientists to use it as a model organism to interrogate many scientific questions. But these tiny creatures do tend to come with a rather astonishing ability to...well, annoy.

Fly-related Issues in the Lab

A significant drawback of working with fruit flies is their ability to escape their habits and live in the lab itself. Many of us have experienced the minor yet consistent annoyance of walking into a fly lab and finding ourselves accosted by dozens of tiny black dots during our stay there. Yet capturing the flies is nearly impossible, due to their small size and inconspicuous coloring. 

FLIS plasmid

Recently, the Phuels lab deposited a plasmid that will forever change the fly lab experience. The Frequency Light Interval System, or FLIS, incorporates a bioluminescence protein into the chitin that can be activated only by a specific frequency. Once activated, the protein emits a brief yet bright burst of light, visible to the naked eye, at regular intervals. This innovation system can help fly labs everywhere find and re-contain any specimens that escape during routine lab activities. 

Here, we demonstrate the new system in a video filmed at Addgene:



If you're working in fly research, I hope you find this new technology as helpful as we have! 

References and Resources

Additional resources on the Addgene blog: 

Flies 101: Catching flies in the lab


Abril, U.N.O., et. al. (2022) A plasmid-based system for locating and containing escaped flies. Nature 4:1-22.

Topics: Plasmids

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