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Encyclopedia of Experiments

Drosophila Egg Collection and Dechorionation: A Method to Remove the Outermost Egg Layer


The Drosophila embryo is surrounded by protective outer membranes. To gain access to the embryo, the chorion–the outermost of the membranes–is often removed. This video describes a commonly used method of dechorionation using sodium hypochlorite. The example protocol demonstrates the procedure while employing sterile techniques necessary for axenic or gnotobiotic animal rearing.


This protocol is an excerpt from  Koyle et al., Rearing the Fruit Fly Drosophila melanogaster Under Axenic and Gnotobiotic Conditions, J. Vis. Exp. (2016).

1. Prepare Egg-laying Cages

  1. Make grape-juice agar plates by microwaving 100 ml water, 10 g brewer's yeast, 10 g glucose, and 1 g of agar. Bring to a boil 3 times in step 1.1 and add 10 g of frozen grape juice concentrate to increase visibility of eggs on the agar plate.
  2. When agar has cooled to 55 °C, pour 20 ml into 100 mm Petri dishes and allow to solidify.
  3. Cover the surface of the agar plates with a yeast paste by mixing 1 g brewer's yeast with 15 g water. Pour yeast paste onto the agar plate making sure the surface is covered, then pour off the excess, leaving a thin yeast residue behind. If multiple plates are used, the paste can be sequentially poured to multiple plates.
  4. Transfer agar plates into the bottom of a cage.
    NOTE: A 32 oz deli container is a good substitute for acrylic fly cages.
    1. Make lids for 32 oz deli containers by cutting a hole in the top and gluing a breathable mesh over the hole with non-toxic glue. If the glue is water soluble prevent water exposure to the lid.
  5. Transfer 200-300 flies into the container and cover with lid. Cover the mesh-protected hole with an empty Petri dish lid to prevent evaporation from the agar surface and add a moist tissue paper inside the lid if desired. Incubate flies at 25 °C overnight for 16-20 hr.

2. Collect Eggs

  1. Prepare a sieve for egg collection by placing nylon mesh into a plastic bushing.
  2. To retrieve the plate with eggs on it, remove flies from the cage by transferring to an empty container. If same flies will be used the next day, transfer immediately to a new cage containing a freshly yeasted grape-juice agar plate. Flies can be used for 3-5 sequential days
  3. Remove dead flies from the agar with a clean paintbrush, being careful to not break up the agar.
  4. Collect eggs by rinsing the agar plate with distilled water, gently brushing eggs from the agar surface, and pouring the slurry over the mesh. Repeat 3-4 times until all or most of the eggs have been removed from the agar plate.

3. Dechorionate Eggs and Transfer to Sterile Diet

  1. Prepare the biosafety cabinet by spraying the inside (including sides) with 70% ethanol. Wipe the bottom with a lab tissue, and sterilize the hood with UV light for ~15 min. Sterilize all non-biological supplies (specimen cups, paintbrush, forceps, waste container, 400 ml sterilized water, and 100 ml of 0.6% sodium hypochlorite) by spraying with ethanol and immediately placing in the biosafety cabinet. Sterilize with UV light for 15 min.
  2. Start the first of 2 sodium hypochlorite washes by placing the bushing with the eggs into a 120 ml specimen cup or other sterile container. Slowly pour ~90 ml of 0.6% sodium hypochlorite solution into the bushing until just below the rim.
  3. Rinse eggs for 2.5 min. Periodically re-suspend the eggs by using forceps to move the bushing up and down in the hypochlorite solution.
  4. Transfer the bushing directly into a second specimen cup, pre-filled with 90 ml bleach, inside the biosafety cabinet.
  5. Repeat step 3.3 inside the biosafety cabinet. At the end of the second bleach treatment, the eggs should begin to adhere to the sides of the bushing.
  6. Carry out steps 3.7-3.8 in the biosafety cabinet.
  7. Discard the bleach and wash the bushing with sterile water 3 times. Re-suspend the eggs several times during each washing by moving the bushing with forceps. By the end of the third washing most eggs should be attached to the side of the bushing.
  8. Using a paintbrush sterilized in ethanol, transfer eggs from the side of the bushing to the sterile diet. Transfer eggs individually or in small batches. Aim for 30-50 eggs per vial. Leave the caps loose to allow oxygen to enter the tube.

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Brewer's Yeast MP Biomedicals, LLC. 903312 http://www.mpbio.com/product.php?pid=02903312
Glucose Sigma Aldrich 158968-3KG http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/aldrich/158968?lang=en&region=US
Agar Fisher--Lab Scientific fly802010 https://www.fishersci.com/shop/products/drosophila-agar-8-100mesh-10kg/nc9349177
Welch's 100% Grape Juice Concentrate Walmart or other grocery store 9116196 http://www.walmart.com/ip/Welch-s-Frozen-100-Grape-Juice-Concentrate-11.5-oz/10804406
Cage: 32 oz. Translucent Round Deli Container Webstaurant Store 999L5032Y http://www.webstaurantstore.com/newspring-delitainer-sd5032y-32-oz-translucent-round-deli-container-24-pack/999L5032Y.html
Translucent Round Deli Container Lid Webstaurant Store 999YNL500 http://www.webstaurantstore.com/newspring-delitainer-ynl500-translucent-round-deli-container-lid-60-pack/999YNL500.html
Stock Bottles Genesee Scientific 32-130 https://geneseesci.com/shop-online/product-details/?product=32-130
Droso-Plugs Genesee Scientific 49-101 https://geneseesci.com/shop-online/product-details/?product=49-101
Nylon Mesh Genesee Scientific 57-102 https://geneseesci.com/shop-online/product-details/715/?product=57-102
Plastic Bushing Home Depot 100404002 http://www.homedepot.com/p/Carlon-1-in-Non-Metallic-Terminal-Adapter-E943FR-CTN/100404002
Plastic Bushing Cap Home Depot 100153897 http://www.homedepot.com/p/1-1-4- in-Rigid-Plastic-Insulated-Bushing-2-Pack-27529/100153897
Specimen Cup MedSupply Partners K01-207067 http://www.medsupplypartners.com/covidien-specimen-containers.html
Repeater M4 Eppendorf 4982000322 https://online-shop.eppendorf.us/US-en/Manual-Liquid-Handling-44563/Dispensers--Burettes-44566/Repeater-M4-PF-44619.html
50 ml Centrifuge Tubes TrueLine Centrifuge Tubes TR2003 https://www.lpsinc.com/Catalog4.asp?catalog_nu=TR2003
Food Boxes USA Scientific 2316-5001 http://www.usascientific.com/search.aspx?find=2316-5001
Lysing Matrix D Bulk MP Biomedicals, LLC. 116540434 http://www.mpbio.com/search.php?q=6540-434&s=Search
Filter Pipette Tips, 300 μl USA Scientific 1120-9810 http://www.usascientific.com/search.aspx?find=1120-9810
Petri Dishes Laboratory Product Sales M089303 https://www.lpsinc.com/Catalog4.asp?catalog_nu=M089303
Ethanol Decon Laboratories, INC. 2701 http://www.deconlabs.com/products.php?ID=88
Paintbrush Walmart 5133 http://www.walmart.com/ip/Chenille-Kraft-5133-Acrylic-Handled-Brush-Set-Assorted-Sizes-colors-8-Brushes-set/41446005
Forceps Fisher 08-882 https://www.fishersci.com/shop/products/fisherbrand-medium-pointed-forceps-3/p-128693
Household Bleach (6-8% Hypochlorite) Walmart 550646751 http://www.walmart.com/ip/Clorox-Concentrated-Regular-Bleach-121-fl-oz/21618295
Universal Peptone Genesee Scientific 20-260 https://geneseesci.com/shop-online/product-details/?product=20-260
Yeast Extract  Fisher Scientific BP1422-500 https://www.fishersci.com/shop/products/fisher-bioreagents-microbiology-media-additives-yeast-extract-3/bp1422500?matchedCatNo=BP1422500
Dipotassium Phosphate Sigma Aldrich P3786-1KG http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/
Ammonium Citrate Sigma Aldrich 25102-500g http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/
Sodium Acetate VWR 97061-994 https://us.vwr.com/store/catalog/product.jsp?catalog_number=97061-994
Magnesium Sulfate Fisher Scientific M63-500 https://www.fishersci.com/shop/products/magnesium-sulfate-heptahydrate-crystalline-certified-acs-fisher-chemical-3/m63500?matchedCatNo=M63500
Manganese Sulfate Sigma Aldrich 10034-96-5 http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/
MRS Powder Sigma Aldrich 69966-500G http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/sial/69966?lang=en&region=US
96 Well Plate Reader BioTek (Epoch) NA http://www.biotek.com/products/microplate_detection/
1.7 ml Centrifuge Tubes USA Scientific 1615-5500 http://www.usascientific.com/search.aspx?find=1615-5500
Filter Pipette Tips, 1,000 μl USA Scientific 1122-1830 http://www.usascientific.com/search.aspx?find=1122-1830
96 Well Plates Greiner Bio-One 655101 https://shop.gbo.com/en/usa/articles/
Ceramic Beads MP Biomedicals, LLC. 6540-434 http://www.mpbio.com/product.php?pid=116540434
Tissue Homogenizer MP Biomedicals, LLC. 116004500 http://www.mpbio.com/product.php?pid=116004500
Class 1 BioSafety Cabinet Thermo Scientific Model 1395 http://www.thermoscientific.com/en/product/1300-series-class-ii-type-a2-biological-safety-cabinet-packages.html


<em>Drosophila</em> Egg Collection and Dechorionation: A Method to Remove the Outermost Egg Layer
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