The Drosophila eye is widely used as a model system to study neuronal differentiation, survival and axon projection. Photoreceptor differentiation starts with the specification of a founder cell R8, which sequentially recruits other photoreceptor neurons to the ommatidium. The eight photoreceptors that compose each ommatidium exist in two chiral forms organized along two axes of symmetry and this pattern represents a paradigm to study tissue polarity. We have developed a method of fluoroscopy to visualize the different types of photoreceptors and the organization of the ommatidia in living animals. This allowed us to perform an F(1) genetic screen to isolate mutants affecting photoreceptor differentiation, survival or planar polarity. We illustrate the power of this detection system using known genetic backgrounds and new mutations that affect ommatidial differentiation, morphology or chirality.

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