Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sophophora, the New Model Organism
Meet Sophophora melanogaster. It has some major advantages as a model organism. The genome is small and there are only four chromosomes; there are thousands of well-characterized genetic markers; the genome sequence is known; developmental pathways have been worked out; it has a short life cycle.
In summary, it has all the advantages of Drosophila melanogaster. In fact, it is Drosophila melanogaster.
The latest studies show conclusively that the genus Drosophila is paraphyletic. Many of the 1500 species cluster with flies from other genera rather than with those in Drosophila. This will prompt a renaming since taxonomists these days are mostly cladists—as they should be.
The type species for the genus Drosohila is Drosophila funebris. Unfortunately, Drosophila melanogaster is not very closely related so its genus name has to be changed. The new name is Sophophora melanogaster. Read all about it on Catalogue of Organisms [Drosophila forever?M].
Now if they could only get around to changing Caenorhabditis and Saccharomyces, we'd all be much happier .....