Friday, April 9, 2010
Alas, The Old Order Changeth (Or In This Case The Genus)
"Drosophila melanogaster (Greek for dark-bellied dew lover : δρόσος = dew, φίλος = intimate friend, lover, μέλας = dark-coloured, γαστήρ = belly ) is a species of Diptera, or the order of flies, in the family Drosophilidae. The species is commonly known as the common fruit fly or vinegar fly. Starting from Charles W. Woodworth, this species is one of the most commonly used model organisms in biology, including studies in genetics, physiology, microbial pathogenesis and life history evolution because they are easy to take care of, breed quickly, and lay many eggs.
Flies belonging to the family Tephritidae are also called fruit flies, which can lead to confusion, especially in Australia where the term fruit fly refers to the Tephritidae, economic pests in fruit production."
Yesterday, a listserv to which I subscribe was all in a dither about the recent, "official" changing of the name of this classic biological model organism. Apparently the ICZN (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature) decided that, according to their rather complicated "code", the proper binomial of this beast should now be Sophophora melanogaster. The change is based, in part, on molecular character distinctions.
Sophophora is a name previously used for a "subgenus" in the fly group (with many hundreds of described species besides this one).
I have to admit that "dark-bellied bearer of wisdom" is a more elegant name (as translated from the Greek).