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Advanced Techniques for Cell Lineage Labelling in Drosophila

  1. Yassi Hafezi,
  2. Todd G Nystul

Published Online: 15 MAR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0022539



How to Cite

Hafezi, Y. and Nystul, T. G. 2012. Advanced Techniques for Cell Lineage Labelling in Drosophila. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2012


The ability to mark and genetically manipulate clonally related cells in live organisms is invaluable for investigating the mechanisms of tissue development, homeostasis and repair. A wide variety of techniques have been developed in Drosophila melanogaster for this purpose. These cell lineage labelling techniques range from simple methods for randomly marking cells to complex schemes for differentially labelling and genetically altering specific cells or more than one clone at a time. For example, coupled MARCM makes it possible to simultaneously label both halves of a cell lineage with positive markers; FINGR uses a combinatorial approach, using Gal4 and Gal80, to provide finer spatial control over clone induction; Flybow and Drosophila Brainbow increase the resolution and efficiency of clonal analysis through multicolour labelling; and G-trace differentially marks cells that currently express a driver from cells that expressed the driver in the past. These labelling techniques each have their own advantages and disadvantages. But together they create a powerful arsenal of tools for the study of many diverse topics in tissue biology.

Key Concepts:

  • Cell lineage labelling is a technique, which allows populations of clonally related cells to be traced in vivo.

  • Modern cell lineage labelling techniques in Drosophila allow cells to be labelled and genetically modified without invasive procedures.

  • Cell lineage labelling has become the gold standard for the identification of stem cells in Drosophila.

  • Recently developed cell lineage labelling techniques offer more flexibility, precision and control.


  • lineage analysis;
  • clonal analysis;
  • mosaic analysis;
  • Drosophila;
  • FLP/FRT;
  • Gal4;
  • UAS