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Suga Suga How’d You Get So Fly?

Posted on Mar 17, 2016 by in The OFI Blog |


Mauren Turcatel, a Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History‘s (NMNH) Entomology Department, spent a couple weeks last October in the Amazon Jungle in Brazil cataloging several species of horsefly for the Smithsonian’s Global Genome Initiative. The six-year goal of the Initiative is to add fresh-DNA from half of the world’s living organisms into its new Biorepository.

1-bug catching

Turcatel’s team waiting, with nets poised, to catch some horseflies.

While in Brazil, Turcatel collaborated with the National Institute of Amazonian Research to collect individuals from 32 species, 13 genera, and two subfamilies of horse-flies. To preserve the DNA, the team would catch the specimen, put them on ice to sedate them in order to cut off one of their legs so they can correctly identify the fly later on in the lab. They then put the rest of the fly in a vial and dropped it into liquid nitrogen, killing the organism instantly, and adding the new species into their collection.

To learn more about Turcatel’s adventures in Brazil, and the horsefly in general, read the recent article on Smithsonian Science News here.