The “phalloblaster”!

I getting ready to start graduate school soon, and I’m hoping to work with reproductive isolation in grasshoppers. A major part of this is looking at their “naughty bits.” They’re not really all that naughty; in fact insect reproductive morphology can be a primary method of distinguishing between some species that otherwise look alike.

Researchers at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) in Australia developed a technique of “reinflating” male insect genitalia (also called the intromittent organ) in dead specimens. They call it the Phalloblaster, and it uses a pressurized stream of alcohol to fill and fix the organ like a balloon. This makes study of morphology much easier.

Here’s a link to a movie showing the process.

So, I guess I’m looking for grant monies to buy one of these?

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