The humble fruit fly – drosophila Facts

Drosophila is the common tiny fruit fly we see around fruit joints and in our kitchens at home. The flies are not harmful and does not carry pathogens hence, they are not vectors. They are known to clean themselves at all times. Those pesky fruit-flies bothering you are actually very interesting insects.

Drosophila melanogaster was first used in the laboratory by H. T. Morgan in 1906, who found out that the unit of heredity was Chromosome. He chose to use Drosophila because of its small size for convinience, short life cycle (7 days) and much similarities with human organs.

There is 75% of human disease genes that have recognizable match with the genome of the fruitflies. It means we can investigate 75% of the known diseases that affect humans using Drosophila. Their brain is composed of 100,000 neurons with which they carryout complex activities including learning, flight navigation among others.

Courtship behaviours in Drosophila have again, a lot of similarities with that of humans including “copy mating”, where a female Drosophila can later accept a male Drosophila when she sees that he was accepted by another female (usually a much older one) after her rejection.

There are five stages of the courtship behaviour which is almost the same with that of humans and may lead to mating or not:

  1. Orientation (male faces the female)
  2. Tapping (male uses its foreleg to tap the female, a way of saying “hi”)
  3. Wing vibration (the male vibrates its wing, known as courtship song, a way of introducing himself via singing)
  4. Licking (the male licks the female genitalia, as a gift to help clean her)
  5. Attempted copulation (the male attempts to copulate with the female by mounting her back), if she accepts, it could last for 5 minutes. If the female doesn’t find his courtship behaviour worthy of her, she rejects him by extruding her ovipositor.

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