The Effect of Selenium Exposure on abdA Gene Expression and Mechanosensation in Drosophila Melanogaster
Selenium, a heavy metal found in drainage near coal mines, is known to cause developmental abnormalities in aquatic species such as trout, and species that depend on aquatic environments such as waterfowl. Previous studies have shown that movement-related body structures have been negatively affected by selenium exposure in wildlife living in coal mine impacted waters. For our experiment we chose to study selenium's effect on the mechanosensation of Drosophila melanogaster larvae, and the abdA gene, which controls many developmental processes, specifically ones related to body structure development. We predicted that selenium exposure will decrease the abdA gene expression and will decrease mechanosensation response in Drosophila melanogaster larvae. To test our hypothesis we randomly selected a control and treatment group, and exposed our treatment group of Drosophila melanogaster larvae to media prepared with a non-lethal dose of selenium solution for one week, and our control group to ideal growth conditions for one week. After exposure, larvae were extracted from the cultures and a mechanosensation assay was performed to evaluate movement response to a physical stimulus. Following the mechanosensation assay, RNA was extracted from the larvae and PCR was performed to measure the expression of the abdA gene.