House fly’s genome hints at detox genes

house fly

The genetic code of the house fly Musca domestica may include extra bits that give the insect an edge in smelling and tasting and also in decomposing waste.

Alexey Goral/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Compared to a fruit fly, the house fly appears to have extra genes that may help it detoxify and decompose animal waste.

Sequencing the genome of the house fly Musca domestica and comparing it to the genome of Drosophila melanogaster revealed nearly 160 extra genetic components in the house fly that hint at enhanced detox action. M. domestica also appears to have a broader stock of chemical signals and proteins for smell and taste, researchers report October 14 in Genome Biology.

Studying the house fly’s 691 million base pairs could lead to more effective insecticides and a better understanding of insecticide resistance, the team writes.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

More Stories from Science News on Genetics