A phosphate-buffered saline and a chemically defined synthetic medium for in vitro maintenance of imaginal discs of Drosophila melanogaster were developed. The composition of the chemically defined medium was varied in order to optimize the incorporation of tritiated uridine into RNA and tritiated amino acids into acid-insoluble protein. The optimal ranges obtained were: pH, 6.75–7.35; osmolarity, 285–345 milliosmoles/liter; sodium concentration, 40–60 mM/liter; potassium concentration, 40–60 mM/liter; magnesium concentration, 0.5–3.5 mM/liter; calcium concentration, 0.3–1.5 mM/liter; and inorganic phosphate concentration, 1.5–4.0 mM/liter. The phosphate-buffered saline is superior to a commonly used insect Ringer solution in maintaining total RNA and acid-insoluble protein synthesis in culture. The chemically defined synthetic medium permits linear total RNA and acid-insoluble protein synthesis for more than 48 hr, DNA synthesis for several hours, normal differentiation to occur after 74 hr in vitro, and trypsinization of imaginal discs into single cell suspensions without developmental damage.

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