From the valley to the vial.

by Suhrid Ghosh  – Sitting in the Fly Room on a Saturday afternoon, amidst thousands of vials and the smell of the fly food, I can’t help but lose myself in seemingly futile imagination as I stare at this photo on the back of a book. Did Thomas Morgan (3rd from right) ever foresee that the fruit fly would become the model organism it is today? An un-revolting animal donating its life in a major way to possibly every field of biological research.

From the valley to the vial

Picture: T.H.Morgan(3rd from right) and his associates at Columbia University, 1919, to celebrate the return of Alfred H. Sturtevant(with beer and cigar) from World War I.

A year back, I was working with Shannon in Lachen valley in the Himalayas. I remember the conversation we had on the basic differences in approach to ecology and cell/molecular biology. The unpredictability quotient in any field research is almost many-fold higher than lab research. This makes any kind of field research highly subjective, with inadequate controls, as one may expect in a laboratory phenotype. Then does it make field studies less true? Not necessarily. Both fields have their own caveats. Consequently, it opens up new avenues for fruitful collaborations. In my opinion, a single piece of study which describes a biological event or phenomenon, should hold good in both scenarios – the valley and the vial.

Coming back to Dresden, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics is one of the best places where my dreams of connecting the two realms is starting to be realized. Although I must say, it took me quite some time to learn the ways of a fly geneticist. It is almost a wonder the way an insect is tweaked and turned to get answers.

Dresden is a wonderful city with strong Bohemian influences and the river Elbe, whose green banks serve as basking grounds for us, of course, with some locally brewed wheat beer.

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