GSA dedicates these inaugural chapters to Bill Gelbart, who is dearly missed, and who will live on in our memories and in our work. Bill was an early enthusiast of the FlyBook project, and without his and Thom Kaufman’s vision to partner with GENETICS, these articles would not have the valuable richness of links to FlyBase as well as its support.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is one of the most effective and widely-used tools of biological research. This humble insect has helped scientists understand the mechanics of life through more than a century of research in genetics, genomics, animal development, neuroscience, systems biology, evolutionary biology, and more. But even the best tool needs a user’s guide to the most up-to-date information. And that guide is now a reality.

The inaugural chapters of FlyBook were recently published in the October issue of the GSA journal GENETICS. A commentary by Gerry Rubin sets the stage for FlyBook followed by review articles which include Transmission, Development, and Plasticity of Synapses (Harris and Littleton), and Drosophila as an In Vivo Model for Human Neurodegenerative Disease (McGurk, Berson, and Bonini).

At the helm are Editor-in-Chief Lynn Cooley, along with co-Editors-in-Chief Scott Hawley and Teri Markow. These three powerhouses collaborate with Section Editors, who invite experts and innovators in their respective fields to write peer-reviewed chapters.

FlyBook exemplifies true community and innovation. As part of its mission to serve the scientific community and its members, GSA collaborated with community leaders to conceptualize, create, support, and disseminate FlyBook. The project is led by practicing scientists who themselves are pushing the field forward – and who also want to enable learning and advancement to a broad range of scientists. With rich, online content, the model of a ‘book’ morphs into the 21st century, and supports the way researchers today share and use information.

"FlyBook will cover D. melanogaster and more! Pictured: D. affinis male (Unckless et al. 2015) Image Credit: David Duneau

FlyBook will cover D. melanogaster and more! Pictured: D. affinis male (Unckless et al. 2015) Image Credit: David Duneau

Each month, GENETICS will publish one or two FlyBook articles spanning the breadth of biology, genetics, genomics, and evolution of Drosophila, ending up with around 50-60 articles after several years. Because of GENETICS’ ongoing partnership with FlyBase, these articles, like other Drosophila articles in the journal, will feature links from genes and other objects directly to the related FlyBase page, which provides additional rich information.

“FlyBook will serve as the go-to reference for people entering the field, those shifting from one area of fly research to another, and for those, such as grant reviewers and graduate class teachers, who need to find information about another discipline, ” says Cooley.

“The core of the Drosophila community has always been the extensive sharing of information,” notes Hawley. “Beginning with Bridges and Brehme (1944) and continuing through the truly priceless Ashburner (1989) books, we have depended on books to train our students and update the community.”

“The tattered copy of the ‘red book’ by Lindsley and Grell (1968) still sits on my desk both at work and at home,” Hawley continues. “The community organizes ourselves around these resources, which live for decades – but we need a new cornerstone to capture the ever-increasing reach of the biology of Drosophila. FlyBook is written not just by two or three altruistic scholars, but by our community. It will offer both perspective and insight, update the history books, and map out our future. It is, in some ways, an homage to the contributions of people like Bridges, Lindsley, and Ashburner, in the hopes of extending these contributions and fulfilling their intended promises.”

Sections and editors include:

Cell Signaling

Marek Mlodzik, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Jessica Treisman, New York University School of Medicine

Development & Growth

Trudi Schüpbach, Princeton University
Carl Thummel, University of Utah School of Medicine

Ecology & Evolution

Teri Markow, University of California, San Diego
Trudy Mackay, North Carolina State University

Gene Expression

Brian Oliver, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health
Eileen Furlong, European Molecular Biology Laboratory

Genome Organization

Sue Celniker, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Gary Karpen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/University of California, Berkeley


Norbert Perrimon, Harvard Medical School/Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Hugo Bellen, Baylor College of Medicine/HHMI

Nervous System & Behavior

John Carlson, Yale University
Jim Truman, Janelia Farm Research Campus/HHMI*

Repair, Recombination, & Cell Division

Scott Hawley, Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Terry Orr-Weaver, Whitehead Institute/Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Stem Cells & Germline

Ruth Lehmann, New York University School of Medicine/HHMI
Allan Spradling, Carnegie Institution for Science/HHMI

“More than a century of work has established Drosophila as perhaps the most important model for the function of genes and pathways conserved throughout the tree of life. FlyBook will make that knowledge accessible to the expert who has long studied the organism, to the geneticist who is studying a homologous gene in another organism, and to someone just starting out in a Drosophila lab,” says GENETICS Editor-in-Chief Mark Johnston.

Publication expenses for FlyBook articles are being provided by GSA as a service to the community.



Ashburner M., 1989 Drosophila: A Laboratory Handbook. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, NY.

Ashburner, M., K. G. Golic and R. S. Hawley, 2005 Drosophila: A Laboratory Handbook. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, NY.

Bridges C. B., and K.S. Brehme, 1944 The Mutants of Drosophila melanogaster, Publ. no. 552. Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Lindsley, D. L., and E. H. Grell, 1968 Genetic Variations of Drosophila melanogaster, Publ. no. 627. Carnegie Institution of Washington.


Tracey DePellegrin is Executive Director of the Genetics Society of America and Executive Editor of GENETICS and G3. Follow her on Twitter @editor_traceyd.

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