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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers are using genetic material from the fruit fly (left) and the gnat-like midge to develop a method for obtaining early identification of pollutants in streams and rivers.

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Document Title: Midge & Fruit Fly
Category: Environmental Remediation
Media Type: Graphics
Date of Image/Photo: Autumn 2003
Background: Genetic Sleight-of-Wing - Fall 2003 Lab Notes Gnat-like flies called midges thrive in a healthy stream; in polluted water, their numbers diminish. Ecologists have come to rely on midge-species counts for an inexpensive snapshot of stream health. But raw numbers reveal nothing about changes-in-progress that portend environmental peril. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers wondered whether they could quickly identify pollutants by using the midge genome to scan for cell damage. There was one tiny hitch: There is no midge genome map. Undaunted, they substituted that of a distant relative, the thoroughly mapped fruit fly Drosophila. Sure enough, it turns out, material on a fruit fly gene chip will bind to protein-precursor RNA from ground-up midge larvae to yield a pattern specific to the pollutant -- heavy metal, radionuclide, hormone analogue or pesticide -- to which the midges were exposed.
URL of this page: http://picturethis.pnl.gov/picturet.nsf/by+id/AMER-5VMW3X

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