from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- proper n. A certain mutant strain of fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with heightened sensitivity to ethyl alcohol (ethanol), causing it to lose postural control at lower concentrations of the drug.
So here is a toast to some of the coolest research in recent years, the discovery of a set of alcohol-sensitive mutants named cheapdate, lightweight, barfly and tipsy, and what drunk flies have to say about us.
More mutants originally known for their defects in memory and learning – rutabaga and fasciclin II – went throught the inebriometer and dropped out almost as fast as cheapdate.
The first fly to drop out of Heberlein’s inebriometer, the appropriately-named cheapdate mutant, barely needed the fly equivalent of a Kahlua shot before it folded it up its wings and dropped.
Unlike cheapdate and lightweight, barfly and tipsy influence alcohol’s sedative effect instead of its impact on posture and coordination.
More mutants have been identified but haven’t yet been characterized to the same degree as cheapdate: lightweight has the same effect as cheapdate but acts on a different gene, while barfly and tipsy have opposite effects in the inebriometer, the former making flies more resistant to alcohol and the latter making them sensitive.