Advances in Fruit Fly Maintanence

Scientists have been working with Drosophila melanogaster for over a century now - the first scientific paper involving Drosophila was published in 1910 by Thomas Morgan. Morgan won the Nobel Prize in 1933 for his work, and it is because of his research that the fruit fly is such a heavily used model organism. And what Morgan - and other scientists - have discovered in the past enables modern scientists to do even more in-depth research. Listed below are some important contributions from fruit fly research throughout history:

  • The ideal temperature for fruit fly growth is 25 degrees Celcius.  This allows scientists to maximize the number of fruit flies obtained per genetic cross.

  • Fruit flies will not mate within 8 hours of emerging from pupae.  This gives scientists a window of time within which to find virgin females.

  • If you put fruit flies at 18 degrees Celcius, they will stay virgin for 16 hours instead of 8.  This allows scientists more flexibility in their experiments.

Milestones in Fruit Fly Research

  • 1910 - Discovery of the white eye color gene. This led to increased understanding of sex linked traits

  • 1915 - Proposal of the Chromosome Theory of Inheritance, or the idea that genes and traits are passed on from parents to offspring via chromosomes

  • 1927 - Discovery that x-rays are mutagenic (they cause mutations and damage in our DNA)

  • 1936 - Discovery of mitotic recombination (exchange of DNA during cell division) in flies

  • 2000 - Drosophila genome sequenced. This gave researchers a much better understanding of the fly, and therefore a better understanding of the human diseases and characteristics they were using it to model.