What is it?
Drosophila is a small insect that can be found all over the world. It is often found around our fruit baskets in summer.
They are attracted to ripe fruit, in which they lay their eggs, and where the larvae develop before pupating into adults. In the laboratory, it feeds mainly on yeast.
The Latin name of the most commonly used Drosophila in the laboratory is Drosophila melanogaster. Females and males have different sizes and colours of abdomen, which makes it easy to distinguish between them. A Drosophila egg takes about 10 days to develop into an adult. Its life expectancy is short, only 1 to 2 months.
Why use Drosophila in research?
Drosophila is a simple animal model and therefore very easy to study: it has only 4 pairs of chromosomes, compared with 23 in humans.
Drosophila is a recognised genetic model, very widespread, and easy to breed (in tubes and bottles). It has a short life cycle: very large numbers of flies can be obtained in less than 2 weeks.
60% to 70% of the genes involved in human diseases have their equivalent in Drosophila (diabetes, cancers, obesity, etc.). This insect is therefore a relevant model, very close to humans and easier to study.
At the IGFL, we use Drosophila to :
- Understand the mechanisms of embryonic development (hox genes).
- Study intestinal bacteria and their effects on the body (probiotics). Intestinal bacteria are beneficial to the health and growth of Drosophila and humans.
- To understand the mechanisms of gene regulation, particularly the promoter sequences of gene expression.
- To study locomotion, from the development of the tissues that form its architecture to the maintenance of these tissue specificities.