Why bother with fruit fly research?
To understand how Drosophila came into research and how research in flies can lead to important new understanding, please watch these two entertaining movies:
To get an impression of the wide range of medically relevant fly research
- browse through our list of lay articles which provide examples of cancer studies, behavioural science, investigations of brain function and disorders, sleep research, studies of alcohol addiction or of how diet impacts on health and ageing – and further topics.
- have a look at the article “Fruit flies in biological research” in the school journal Biological Sciences Reviews, which explains how researchers at the University of Manchester use flies to understand the loss of nerves during ageing or neurodegenerative disease.
What happens in the fly laboratory?
Flies are kept in vials (A) that are stored in incubators (B), and they can be easily selected under a dissecting microscope (C-E):
Here is how flies develop from egg lay to eclosion of the next generation:
Here you can see how a fly maggot crawls: the green muscles contract in waves that run from the back to the front:
Here you can see how these contraction waves are coordinated from the nervous system: using modern genetic tools you can see how waves of activity run through the CNS primarily from back to front, instructing muscles to contract in the same pattern:
If you want to see how the maggots are prepared for this, watch this movie:
Some experiments that even you could do
A simple experiment showing seizure flies which are used to study mechanisms and treatments of epilepsy (for more details and how to perform this experiment see here):
Perform a simple genetics experiment (click to download the PowerPoint and accompanying Activity Sheet)