Why the fly?
Why the Fly?
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Some facts | Lay articles
Many 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
Mating behaviour and aggression
Brain function and disorders
Dietary and alcohol
- Douglas, A. E. (2018). Gut microbes alter fly walking activity Nature, 10.1038/d41586-018-07080-y — [LINK]
- A page on droso4schools dedicated to alcohol-related research in flies.
- A Nature Methods feature: “Metabolism: feeding fruit flies“
- Pulver, S. (2013). Binge drinking maggots go cold turkey. J Exp Biol 216, v-vi — [LINK]
- Drexel Now: Drexel Scientists Find Common Sweetener is a Safe Insecticide
- The Why Files: How a fly detects a poison: New sensory route found
- EurekAlert: Fruit flies remember a good meal, Blood growth factor activates neural stem cells
- United Academics: Fasting Fruit Flies: Improved Focus and Brain Power
- Science Daily: How lifeforms know to be the right size: Fruit fly study reveals new clues
- Well blogs: How a school girl chose Drosophila to demonstrate the superior quality of organic fruits
- Science Daily: Microbes prevent malnutrition in fruit flies, and maybe humans, too
- Phys Org: Yo-yo weight fluctuation has little influence on the health of fruit flies
- National Institutes of Health: Fruit flies may shed light on cocaine addiction
- The Conversation: Fruit flies know how to sniff out antioxidants
- Sciencemag: Better smelling beer, thanks to fruit flies
- eScienceCommons: “Fruit flies force their young to drink alcohol- for their own good”
- New York times article: “Learning from the spurned and tipsy fruit fly”
- BBC news: “Sex-starved fruit flies turn to drink”
- Scientific American blog: Fruit flies use alcohol to self-medicate
- Article in Sciencemag: “Chromosome helps fruit flies hold their liquor“
- Mail online: “Pregnant? DON’T eat for two!“
- Life, Health and Wellbeing: “Why eating for two during pregnancy may cause weight problem“
- CBS News: “Why fruit fly intestines tell a human tale? “
- Wellcome Trust blog: “Fly poo never looked so beautiful…“
- Discoblog: “Gorgeous Guts: Pretty Photos of Fly Intestines Reveal Digestive Secrets“
- Discover: “Gut bacteria change the sexual preference of fruit flies“
- Article in Science Daily “Sweet tooth? Flies have it too–new study shows how they know what to eat and when to stop“
- Article in the Wall Street Journal “Seeking elixir of life, a scientist studies fruit flies“
- Article in Mother Jones:” Fake Sweeteners Make You Crave More Sweets“
Smell & Flight