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11/22/2006 8:36:00 AM -0500

NewsTrack - Science

Tool tests non-model organism genes

BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. team that developed the world's first transgenic butterfly has created a tool that allows the direct testing of the function of specific genes.

The tool developed by University of Buffalo researchers is designed to provide scientists studying "non-model" organisms a means of directly testing the function of certain genes, even in the absence of genome sequencing information.

Biologists studying "model" organisms, such as the fruit fly or mouse, have access to sophisticated and efficient tools that allow them to explore functional genetics in these animals. But researchers seeking to discover how genes work in other organisms have been limited.

"With this research, we have developed a tool to test gene function in an animal where these kinds of tools were not available before," said Diane Ramos, a doctoral candidate in the University of Buffalo department of biological sciences. She is co-author of the study paper with Firdous Kamal.

"We hope to inspire other researchers working in non-model organisms to use these kinds of techniques to answer fundamental questions about what genes do, which will allow interesting comparisons between species."

The paper describing the research appears in the open-access journal BMC Developmental Biology.

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