image of a fruit fly

Drosophila melanogaster (Fruit Fly)

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Scientific Name: Drosophila melanogaster

Organism Facts:

  • One of the most commonly studied organisms in biological research due to the ease of care, short generation time, and prolific reproduction. 
  • First organism in which genes and sex chromosomes were discovered.
  • Almost 75% of known human disease genes have a similar counterpart in fruit flies, making them a valuable model for studying human diseases and disorders including diabetes, cancer, and the process of aging.
  • Important models for learning how genes and the environment interact to affect behavior.
  • A large amount of information exists regarding related species of Drosophila making this species useful for evolutionary studies. 

Which UI Department of Biology researchers study this organism:

Dan Eberl

Bryant McAllister

Josep Comeron

Albert Erives

Bridget Lear

Ana Llopart

John Manak

Chun-Fang Wu

Why UI Department of Biology researchers use this organism:

  • Study connections between the nervous system and certain behaviors including those that are controlled by the circadian clock. The clock regulates sleep/wake cycles in many organisms, including humans, and when disrupted impacts sleep quality and mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. 
  • Better understand how organisms detect sound, and how they use the information from sounds to direct their behavior.
  • Study a specific form of epilepsy in order to understand the genetic basis of the disease in addition to developing novel drug therapies.
  • Study the differences in DNA sequences between organisms that help us to understand the origin and relatedness of different species.