Which wild-type should I use?
Updated: Jul 30, 2021
There are many types of "wild-type" strains in flies. How do you know which ones to use for your behavior? Here is a bit of information on common ones that you can try and some anecdotal evidence I've accumulated by watching the flies and talking to people. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this!
Which wild-type strain should I use?
Often the wild-type strain we use is dependent on the lab we were trained in. My recommendation is to test a bunch of the common ones in your assay and pick the one that produces the most consistent behavior. Use this for your background strain (ie the strain to which you backcross / outcross all of your transgenic / mutant lines). If you're not sure where to start, get the most commonly used line from a lab that does the type of behavior you are interested in.
Wild-types are domesticated animals
D. melanogaster in the lab are not the same as flies collected from the wild. They have been in labs for many, many years and have diverged significantly. Note that substrains of the same wild-type also differ in their phenotypes, so don't assume Canton-S from a lab Y is the same as Canton S from lab Z.
Is your wild-type actually a mutant?
If your wild-type has white or orange or pink eyes, a yellow or black cuticle, funny shaped bristles or wings, etc, it's not really a wild-type. It has a mutation and you don't know how that mutation affects behavior unless you test it. In lots of papers, people refer to w1118 as a wild-type. These flies have a mutation in the white gene. This gene affects lots of behaviors. Best be careful if you are using any white flies as your background strain. Sometimes mini-w can rescue the behavior, but you need to test this. The mutations in balancers and common dominant markers can also affect behavior.
Common wild-types and their stereotypes:
Canton-S: most common, appear more sensitive to food deprivation (and maybe other stressors?) than other wt strains
Oregon-R: second most common, often used for mating, chemosensation
Berlin: used commonly in alcohol and memory experiments
DL: good for flight
Some useful papers comparing wild-type flies for behavior:
Colomb & Brembs (2014) Sub-strains of Drosophila Canton-S differ markedly in their locomotion behavior. F1000 Research 3:176.
Schneider, Dickinson & Levine (2012) Social structures depend on innate determinants of chemosensory processing in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci 109:17174-9.
McGraw, Gibson, Clark & Wolfner (2009) Strain-dependent differences in several reproductive traits are not accompanied by early postmating transcriptome changes in female Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 181:1273-80.
Iliadi, Iliadi, & Boulianne (2009) Regulation of Drosophila life-span: Effect of genetic background, sex, mating and social status. Exp Gertontol 44: 546-53.
If you know of other helpful papers: please let me know and I'll post them!