The European Drosophila Population Genomics Consortium (DrosEU), together with the North American Real Time Evolution Consortium (DrosRTEC) has published a new article, Drosophila Evolution over Space and Time (DEST) – A new population genomics resource, in the prestigious journal Molecular Biology and Evolution using, among other samples, the samples of natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) collected by the students and teachers involved in the citizen science project Melanogaster: Catch the Fly! (#MelanogasterCTF).
The paper describes the creation and the development of the new Drosophila over Space and Time (DEST) genomic data platform. The platform is based on the sequencing of more than 13,000 flies of the Drosophila melanogaster species, a leading model in population genetics and genomics— cthat have been collected from around the world since 2003. This makes DEST the largest repository of sequenced Drosophila melanogaster genomes ever developed. The DEST platform is designed to be a dynamic and collaborative tool that will acquire greater value as different research groups interested in studying the evolution and genetics of Drosophila upload more sequenced data to the repository. This synergistic collaboration between the groups will enrich the platform with data from both around the world and over time. This collaboration will help fill some relevant gaps that exist in the current repository, such as the lack of the samples from Asia and South America.
For the publication of the article, Drosophila Evolution over Space and Time (DEST) – A new population genomics resource, it is worth highlighting the contribution of two Spanish schools: IES Eladio Cabañero en Tomelloso (Ciudad Real), and IES José de Mora en Baza (Granada), both who have been involved in the citizen science project #MelanogasterCTF since its inception in 2016. The teachers in charge of coordinating the activity and arranging the collection of the fruitfly samples from these two centers are Antonio J. Buendía-Ruíz, M. Josefa Gómez-Julián and M. Luisa Espinosa-Jimenez from IES Eladio Cabañero; and Francisco D. Gallardo-Jiménez from IES José de Mora. This is not the first time that the data collected by these participating schools in the #MelanogasterCTF project has contributed to the advancement of science. In that case, it was the specimens of flies collected by the IES Eladio Cabañero in Tomelloso that made it possible to discover the existence of a hitherto unknown DNA virus, for which it received the name “Tomelloso virus”. In 2020; this discovery allowed the DrosEU consortium to publish its first scientific article in the leading scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution:, Genomic analysis of European Drosophila melanogaster populations reveals longitudinal structure, continent-wide selection, and previously unknown DNA viruses.
#MelanogasterCTF is a citizen science project in which students and teachers from different locations in Spain and other European countries are put in charge of collecting biological samples of Drosophila (fruit fly) in fields of fruit trees, classifying the samples collected according to the species in the laboratories of their educational centers, and preparing them to send to the research centers. The research centers are in charge of sequencing the genomes of the samples they receive. After sequencing, genomic information is made freely available to all the research staff that are a part of the DrosEU consortium—and to the scientific community in general—in order to be used in their studies. Currently,15 Spanish and 3 European educational centers participate in the collection of biological samples of Drosophila as part of the #MelanogasterCTF project. The involvement of different schools, each of them from different geographical areas, allows the scientific community to acquire data from areas that are difficult to access by themselves, since their laboratories are not located in those areas of scientific interest for the collection of samples. Moreover, this collaboration allows the laboratories to obtain samples from the same area over the years. This collaboration between educational centers and scientific staff not only benefits the scientific community, but also the students and teachers, by teaching them new concepts related to evolution and climate change that are difficult to learn about in the classroom. These concepts can then be put into practice through the field trips and other different activities organized during the course, such as the Meet and Fly congress.
The citizen science project #MelanogasterCTF is organized by the Evolutionary and Functional Genomics Laboratory (Gonzalez Lab) of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE, CSIC-UPF) and the scientific dissemination platform Science in Your World (LCATM). The project is done with the collaboration of the Genomics, Bioinformatics and Evolution (GGBE) Group from the Department of Genetics and Microbiology at the UAB and DrosEU. This project is publicly funded by the European Research Council (ERC, H2020-ERC-2014-CoG-647900), the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the CSIC General Foundation (FGCSIC).
Martin Kapun, Joaquin C B Nunez, et al., Drosophila Evolution over Space and Time (DEST): A New Population Genomics Resource, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msab259
For more information, contact the coordinators of the #MelanogasterCTF project:
Dr. Josefa González (Scientific director):
Roberto Torres (Comunication director)