Those Wild and Crazy Geneticists

If you ever tired of the normal this and abelian that of math, check out these lists of names that geneticists have given to fruit flies, zebrafish, and other organisms, here and here. My personal favorite is the british rail gene, which supresses the effect of the always early gene. Some of the names, like cheap date, are vaguely descriptive (the gene increases susceptibility to alcohol), while others such as pray for elves seem to indicate DMT use. And I’m sure while the first twenty times you hear a gene named sonic hedgehog, it’s funny, but soon you reach the twenty-first, and it sinks in that you’ll probably be stuck hearing it for the rest of your life…

Via Pharyngula.

One thought on “Those Wild and Crazy Geneticists

  1. Sadly, or perhaps happily, it now seems like we won’t be stuck hearing these names for the rest of our lives. As reported in Nature 444, 136 (9 November 2006):
    “Genes with whimsical names that might cause offence to people carrying mutations in them will be rebranded, the committee that adjudicates on such matters has decided. Names such as lunatic fringe, radical fringe, Sonic hedgehog and Indian hedgehog will no longer be used to refer to human genes.

    A survey by the Gene Nomenclature Committee of the Human Genome Organisation, based at University College London, came up with ten genes that have “inappropriate, demeaning and pejorative” names, many of which are linked to eponymous developmental defects. Most genes on the list were initially discovered in fruitflies, for which geneticists have a tradition of coming up with jokey names. The human versions will now be known simply by their abbreviations.”

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