The Flies That Reproduce On Your Fruit Are Very Useful In Science
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The Flies That Reproduce On Your Fruit Are Very Useful In Science

Drosophila Melanogaster or more commonly known as Fruit Flies, are more complex than you would think. They are Model Organisms used for introduction Genetics classes all across the World. With little costs to support, rapid reproduction rates, and a variety of physical traits that can be easily observed under a microscope, they are key for studying.

Drosophila Melanogaster, commonly known as fruit flies, are one of several model organisms in Biology. Drosophila has 3 pairs of autosomes, compared to humans who have 44 pairs. However, the determination of sexes is very similar. In humans, the presence of a Y chromosome determines the sex. A male possesses one Y chromosome and one X chromosome, compared to a female, who possesses 2 X chromosomes. In Drosophila, the presence of 1 X chromosome makes up the male and 2 X chromosomes make up a female. The genome in Drosophila is very small, making them a perfect organism to study gene expression.

Drosophila has a very short life span. The life cycle is approximately 30 days at room temperature. Once they have emerged from their Pupa, formed a pair of wings, and 6 legs, they are only considered virgins for the first 12 hours. The females can lay up to 500 eggs and cross breeding them show results in about 2 weeks. This makes them ideal for geneticists to observe physical traits or phenotypes, without having to wait such a long time. 

Sex chromosomes play major roles in expressing genes other than determining sex. Sex-linked inheritance, is when gene expressed is located either the X or Y chromosomes. In humans and Drosophila each sex chromosome is received similarly, one from each of the parent’s gametes. An egg or female gamete contains 2 X chromosomes in which one is passed on to the offspring. A sperm or male gamete contains 1 X and 1 Y chromosome in which only one is passed on to the offspring. A trait for a gene is either dominant or recessive. A recessive trait is present only when the other form of the trait usually present is not present. A dominant trait is what masks the other trait and appears physically in the phenotype.

The eye color is a common trait in Drosophila that can be easily distinguished under a microscope. Red eyes are dominant, the wild type, whereas white eyes are recessive. The determination of eye color is sex linked due to the distribution of the X chromosomes. Breeding pure line white eyed flies with red eyed flies the inheritance pattern can be observed in the next generations. The X chromosome can either be wild type or mutant for the white eye trait. A female offspring would have to obtain 2 mutant X chromosomes to express the trait whereas a male offspring would only have to express the mutation in his only X chromosome. This pattern of inheritance is similar to colorblindness in humans.


Many different traits can be expressed through different genes and patterns of inheritance. These organisms produce results quickly and survive off of bare essentials, such as a supply of carbohydrates. With many genes similar to humans, fast reproduction rates, and low cost to support, they make the perfect organism to observe physical variation in crossbreeding. 

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Comments (1)

So.. flies are useful in a way...