Why the fly?

Why the Fly?

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Some facts | Lay articles

genes400Many of our organs have common origins and serve the same purposes (see details here). They are often inscribed by the same genes. Deciphering the principal functions of these genes can be done in the fly. Applying this knowledge from Drosophila to human disease is a powerful, much used and proven strategy to inspire and accelerate related research in higher animals and humans – often referred to as using the fly as a “test tube” for research on mammals or disease. For more explicit explanations, please, see the “Why Fly?” page on our droso4schools website and this recent blog post.

Did you know that…

  • …Drosophila is the insect behind 10 Nobel laureates in Physiology or MEDICINE?
  • …about 75% of human disease genes have a recognisable match in fruit flies?
  • …the equivalent of the population of London can be kept on a few trays in the laboratory?
  • …flies become grandparents in only 3-4 weeks, ideal to draw their family trees in no time?
  • …flies have a brain, learn & can be made smarter?
  • …the first learning genes were discovered in flies and do just the same in humans?
  • …flies can get drunk and addicted to alcohol? They are strong in addiction research!
  • …flies have enormously advanced our understanding of cancer, epilepsy & Alzheimer’s?
  • …flies can be used to find future medicines?
  • …flies are used to study sleep? Coffee keeps them awake, and old flies sleep less!
  • …flies have stem cells and taught us a lot about their regulation?
  • …flies lead the way in dietary research, instructing us what to eat for healthy ageing?
  • …flies live only weeks, but age as we do? Ageing research is fast in flies!
  • …flies are used to study the biology of aggression?
  • …flies get jet lag? The first “jet lag genes” were found in flies, and we have them too!
  • …flies in the Mediterranean take a siesta but not in the north? The “jet lag” genes are responsible for this.
  • …flies reached the US in the 19th century – shortly before they started their research career in New York?
  • …flies were the first ever organisms that reached space in 1947 and returned safely? — [LINK]
  • …time flies like an arrow, and fruit flies like a banana.

…for almost every organ in humans there is a match in flies, and common genes regulate their development, organisation and function (see our Organs page).

Lay articles about fly research

From Manchester groups

Form other sources






CourtshipMating behaviour and aggression


Brain function and disordersBrain


AlcoholDietary and alcohol


Smell & Flight




Fruit fly in space