Drosophila melanogaster, or the fruit fly as it is more commonly called, has played an important part in science. It has aided scientists in the discovery of many different principles. Its importance continues today.
The fruit fly has been used for approximately a century in scientific research, according to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. It has played an especially large role in the study of genetics. Thomas H. Morgan utilized the fruit fly to prove the chromosomal theory of inheritance. This showed that chromosomes carry genetic information. The fruit fly was vital in discoveries regarding gene mapping, multiple alleles, spistatis and sex-linked inheritance. Research continued on Drosophila melanogaster by H. Sturtevant. He created genetic maps of the fruit fly.
There are various reasons why Drosophila melanogaster has been such an ideal subject for studies in genetics and biology. First, it can reproduce very easily in captivity. It is very easy to breed many different subjects for use in studies.
The fruit fly has a very short lifespan. In seven days it matures into an adult. Because of this, researchers could study many generations in a short span of time. This is especially useful for genetic research.
It is simple to care for fruit flies. It is also inexpensive. Fruit flies reproduce very quickly, with one female creating a hundred eggs every single day. It is easy to tell the difference between males and females, as well as identify virgin females. There are only four pairs of chromosomes, and this makes it very easy to study them. Meiotic recombination does not occur in males. Also, because they have been studied so extensively, their entire genome was sequenced, allowing for easy research. All of these traits make Drosophila melanogaster the ideal subject to use in scientific research.
Despite the simplicity of Drosophila melanogaster, scientists can learn a great deal about genetics and biology from it. Many of the same principles about genetics are the same for fruit flies and other animals, including humans.
Drosophila melanogaster is even used to teach children about the importance of science. The same benefits that make it a great subject for established research scientists make it easy to use for high school and college students, according to the biology department at the University of Arizona. Thus they can help teach the next generation of scientists.
Although Drosophila melanogaster are simple creatures, their contribution to science through the years has been nothing short of amazing. They continue to be studied all over the world.