The Citizen Science Project Melanogaster: Catch The Fly! (#MelanogasterCTF), and its international implementation, aDaptNAtion, provides a unique opportunity for people to experience science from the front line, learn about the ins and outs of a leading frontier research project in Europe, and a chance to collaborate in its development.
#MelanogasterCTF is the first European citizen science network on adaptation genomics*. It offers the possibility of experiencing scientific work by leading researchers in this field of biology, such as Dr. Josefa González and her team: the Laboratory of Evolutionary and Functional Genomics (González Lab) of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF) at Barcelona. The project is co-led by the science dissemination platform La Ciència Al Teu Món (‘Science in Your World’, LCATM).
#MelanogasterCTF offers its participants the opportunity to interact with DrosEU, a pioneering international network of more than 60 high-level laboratories, in more than 20 countries from the European Union and the rest of the world. The work of the DrosEU network, in collaboration with the #MelanogasterCTF project, has already provided us with some interesting results, such as the discovery of the “Tomelloso virus”, which infects Drosophila melanogaster; or the creation of the first European map of the genetic variation found in Drosophila melanogaster.
Through direct citizen involvement, #MelanogasterCTF brings science closer to students and teachers from both rural and other areas in both Spain and Europe; while contributing to the advancement of frontier science* at the international level. The main objective of this scientific project is to understand how organisms adapt to the environment. To achieve this, we work with a genetic model organism: fruit flies from the genus Drosophila. You can read more about them in the Scientific aim and Why the fruit fly sections.
For students and teachers, #MelanogasterCTF provides an opportunity to increase their scientific, technological, and 4C capacities (collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking), through a hands-on project that empowers them as agents and enablers of a necessary global change. In turn, it is a synergistic project, which facilitates, accelerates, and economizes scientific research.
If you are a teacher or student and want to explore or experiment with your class, you cannot miss this opportunity!
From its inception in 2016, #MelanogasterCTF has grown from two Spanish schools, in Baza and Tomelloso, to the current total of 14 participating schools in 6 Spanish regions (Andalusia, Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Navarre, and the Valencian Community). In the lastest 2019 edition, the German Justus von Liebig School in the municipality of Waldshut-Tiengen (Baden-Württenberg), in the heart of the Black Forest, also joined #MelanogasterCTF. We are now also preparing to incorporate new schools from Europe and globally. Students from these schools collect fruit flies from fruit tree fields near their centers, classify them, and prepare them for further scientific analysis, which includes DNA* sequencing* and bioinformatic* analysis.
From the #MelanogasterCTF organization, we encourage the current participating educational centers, teachers and students to involve their friends, neighbors, agents from the agricultural sector and related entities (e.g. environmental protection), since this allows expanding the magnitude of the project and the actions carried out by the participants in the project. Finally, we recall that the project is open to other countries, both in Europe, Latin America and the rest of the world.
Participants in the #MelanogasterCTF citizen science project have relevant teaching materials on biology and genetics at their disposal, prepared by González Lab and the science outreach platform La Ciència Al Teu Món (LCATM), so they can prepare themselves and help spread the scientific spirit and their findings to their neighbors and friends. The project has many activities that allow participation in many different ways, from students and teachers in secondary schools to university centers; and from the most rural areas to the most urban areas of Spain, Europe, and the rest of the world.
You can read about how the #MelanogasterCTF project adapts to the hygiene and physical distance measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in this piece of news.
The citizen science project #MelanogasterCTF has the support and funding of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the European Research Council (ERC).
* You can check a Glossary with the terms Adaptation genomics, Bioinformatics, DNA, DNA sequencing, Frontier science, Genomics.