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August 01, 2011     Post 26
mutant flies two

wingless fly update There is Still something in the water

On June 24 while sitting on the beach at Main Duck both my husband and I observed several wingless flies crawling around on us. They looked like ordinary houseflies. Five years ago I found both single wing and no wing flies on the beach at Fair Haven associated with dead small mouth bass.

Back then the Internet didn't have too much to say about them but when I sent a query off to a biology contact he forwarded it on to some other 'expert' who wrote back it was probably a mutation caused by chemicals in the food chain.
This link to an article that Google called up for me is quite interesting. It is from Vanderbilt University's Institute of Chemical Biology and is dated May 26 2010 and written by Carol Rouzer.


It's got a bit more molecular biology than I could digest in a 30 second setting but essentially lab studies of the mutation that causes wingless fruit flies showed a link to developmental abnormalities that result in many types of cancer across a very wide spectrum of creatures including mice and humans. Here's the first couple sentences;

“The association between wingless fruit flies and cancer may not be obvious, but studies of both have led to the discovery of an important signaling pathway that controls development in the embryo and supports cell division and differentiation in the adult. Those original studies revealed that mutation of a particular gene in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, led to abnormal wing development.  The same gene was found to be close to the integration point of a virus that causes mammary cancer in mice. A combination of “Wingless” and “integration” provided the odd name, Wnt (pronounced ‘wint’), for the protein coded by this gene which is highly conserved across all species that have bilateral symmetry. “

I guess it isn't exactly news that Lake Ontario has received various chemicals and toxins and low doses of radioactivity for decades as have all the other Great Lakes. Nor is the impact of concentrating these toxins through the food chain a new notion. But it is a bit disturbing to see such visual evidence of it in abnormal physically deformed blow flies and flesh flies whose maggots fed on carcasses washed up on the beach. Keep in mind that a maggot eats nothing but Lake Ontario fish, while we who follow the NYS and Canadian advisories only eat fish from the lake once a month probably for part of the year . But even so, the insects are acting as canaries in a coal mine warning us do we really want to keep putting all this stuff in our drinking water and in our food chain? Kinda makes one think about eating less meat!

PS since this was written a similar fly was spotted on our neighborhood beach on the south shore a half mile or so east of Port Bay. I would be very interested in hearing of other people's reports of this mutation/abnormality. Please send them to me at susan@silverwaters.com -

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